Clean in Between! How to Floss Your Teeth Properly

Flossing your teeth properly can mean the difference between a healthy mouth and repeated dentist visits.

How many people floss their teeth daily? No surprise here, only 4 out of 10 people floss daily according to a study from NPR. 20% of people don’t floss their teeth at all. I get it, I use to be one of them. Then you go through dental hygiene school you feel bad about telling patients they should be flossing daily! Needless to say, I am now an avid flosser, some might say compulsive, as sheer panic will set in if I can’t floss every night or if I’m staying somewhere and can’t find my floss.

Why should you regularly floss your teeth?

So, why do so many people not floss? Is it because it’s boring, which I have heard before? Too difficult? Or just pure laziness? Sometimes it’s because our patients haven’t been properly taught how to floss or shown other aides that they might need to use in addition to flossing, like inter-proximal brushes, stimudents, or waterpiks. Notice how I said use “in addition” to flossing. I am an avid believer to properly remove the bacteria slim layer, also known as plaque, from in-between your teeth you need to use floss. The key is doing it with the proper technique and material. I’m going to discuss the difference in each interdental aid and what they do.  

Proper Flossing Technique and Materials

Give me an F, give me an L, give me an O-S-S. What’s that spell? Floss! Consider me your flossing cheerleader. Let’s talk about the floss itself. What you want in a floss is some texture. Multi-fiber floss will give you that loofah scrubbing in between your teeth. You want your floss to be absorbent. The more fibers and texture you have, the better absorption you get when you floss your teeth. Our recommended flosses are a woven style, resembles yarn, or an expanding style which expands to a fluffy floss when using, exposing all its little fibers when it gets wet.  

Now, you want to use proper technique for the best clean. What you want to do is get about eighteen inches of floss. If you’re like me and a little obsessive about flossing, you may want a longer piece. Wrap that floss around your middle finger a couple times on your dominant hand. Notice I said middle finger and not the index finger. Then wrap it around the other middle finger once. Now you have the hold right let’s get that floss in between your teeth.

You want to wiggle back and forth in a see saw motion to get it in between your teeth gently, then you will pull or push the floss against the side of the tooth and move the floss where is wraps the side of the tooth creating a “C” shape. After you completed the right shape you will go up and down the side of each tooth five to six times. Then, you pull the floss out from in between those teeth and wrap the dirty floss just used on your right finger (if that is your dominant hand) and pull a clean piece from the left finger. Continue throughout the mouth. Tada! You have successfully flossed your teeth.  

Now, moving on to some of the other aides you can use in addition to flossing your teeth. Inter-proximal brushes, and stimudents are generally used when your gum tissue has migrated south and you have some space between the top of the tissue and the contact, which is where the teeth touch. We call it a black triangle. These aides are good for this because they can clean wider areas. Inter-proximal brushes come in different sizes so you can make sure you are using the right size in between your teeth. Make sure you don’t force one that is too large in between your teeth, because you can damage the gum tissue. Stimudents are basically a toothpick, however they are triangular shaped, so you are less likely to damage the tissue when using them. Always remember you never want to force anything in between your teeth or be too aggressive because you gum tissue can get damaged and while gum tissue can heal it cannot grow back.  

Lastly, we will discuss a waterpik. Most of the patients I have recommended a waterpik to have periodontal disease and deeper probing. A waterpik shoots a stream of water out of a tip, a lot of them come with different tips and pressure adjustments. Waterpiks are great for getting out large food deposits or heavy plaque, and to help clean down and around the gum tissue if you haven’t been able to access that area with your electric toothbrush and flossing.  

Once again, I always, always, always recommend flossing in addition to these other aides because the mechanical removal of the slimy biofilm layer in between the teeth is best removed by a fibrous, textured, absorbent floss. You wouldn’t just get in a shower of running water and not wash your body, right? 

Contact Adams Dental for More Information to Properly Floss Your Teeth

When it comes to flossing your teeth, your best bet is to attend to it at least once a day, using proper technique and materials. For more information to floss your teeth properly or to schedule an appointment with our dentist in Clearwater, contact Adams Dental today at 727-461-4832. We will also assist you if you require dental crowns and dental bridges.

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