January 26, 2015


How to floss more effectively

FlossingDentists frequently advise patents to floss more often. Flossing is the key to preventing tartar buildup at the gum line and to reduce bleeding between teeth from enflamed gum tissue. Still, many overlook the benefits of flossing or simply do not know how to floss effectively.

The purpose of flossing is to remove food particles that become lodged in places a toothbrush cannot reach, such as under the gum line and between the teeth. Flossing should not take the place of brushing. Instead, use flossing in conjunction with brushing.

To floss more effectively, find a floss product that is easy to use and comfortable. Floss comes in nylon or multifilament varieties, as well as PFTE or monofilament floss. There also are floss brushes and single-use floss sticks that can facilitate flossing and cleaning teeth. Floss that’s comfortable makes flossing more enjoyable. Otherwise, you may put off flossing if it is cumbersome or difficult.

To make the most of flossing, employ the proper technique. If you have teeth that have tight contact points, you probably will want to use a monofilament floss that will not shred or break apart. Others may be able to work with a nylon floss. Floss also may come in waxed varieties for easier gliding between the teeth. Still other floss have fluoride already on them to help prevent cavities.

* To begin flossing correctly, start with a piece of floss about 18 inches in length. Wind the excess floss around your middle fingers and keep about 2 inches handy between thumb and index finger for use between the teeth.

* Use a gentle sawing motion between the teeth to work the floss along the natural curve of the teeth and also where each tooth meets the gum line.

* Do not snap the floss against the gums. Doing so can cause trauma to the tissue.

* Angle the floss so it forms a “C” shape and hugs the tooth. Slide the floss up and down each tooth and make sure it gently goes a little below the gum line. Repeat on the opposite side of each tooth as well.

* As you floss each tooth, release clean floss from your fingers so you have a fresh area for cleaning the next tooth.

* Follow up flossing with brushing to remove any errant bits of food and plaque. Then rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash. It is adviseable to floss twice a day before brushing. However, once a day will be sufficient and should be reserved for before bed.

If using flossing aides, follow the same general techniques, but use a new aide when the one you’re using becomes soiled or damaged.