How to Floss the Teeth Properly

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Your dentist is right, brushing is simply not enough to keep the teeth clean. A toothbrush cannot get into the tiny crevices in-between teeth. In order to remove food debris, you have to floss before or after brushing the teeth.

Dental floss is thin enough to dislodge food particles under the gums and in between teeth. It can remove tartar, plaques, and bacterial build-up that cause bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Research shows that gum diseases do not just affect the gums. This is an inflammatory disorder that can lead to chronic diseases, including stomach cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Flossing is such a vital part of oral hygiene that when in a pinch, dentists say you can skip brushing but flossing? Never.

Flossing seems simple enough. You get a waxed string and slip it in between teeth. It’s not rocket science. But there is a right way and a wrong way to floss. And if you think you’re flossing the teeth properly, think again.

Most people floss by simply pushing the string up and down the teeth. This motion does not dislodge plaques and food debris properly. It also hurts the gums, causing them to recede from the teeth. Ideally, you have to brush your teeth for two minutes and spend a minute flossing. You have to start from the upper right to the left then lower left to the lower right.

Types of Dental Floss

Flavored, Waxed

Some dental floss comes in an array of flavors, including peppermint or cinnamon. These flavors will keep the breath fresh. Because the string is waxed, it will glide smoothly between teeth, causing less damage on the gums.

Ribbon or Tape Floss

This type of floss is wider so it covers a larger portion of the tooth. This cleans better than fine floss. The wider string allows for a better, more comfortable grip. You are less likely to damage the gums when you use ribbon floss.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are disposable dental floss attached to a plastic pick. You slip the floss on the tooth by biting down on the pick. Although this dental floss is great on the go, it’s not the best dental floss to use to protect the gums from damage. The pick gives you less control over the pressure in which you floss the teeth.

How to Floss the Teeth Properly

Step 1: Cut an 18-inch dental floss. Now wind the floss on each middle finger. You should have at least two inches of floss to use.

Step 2: Hold the floss using your thumbs and index finger. The floss should be tight and taut to remove food debris properly.

Step 3: Now slide the floss gently between the teeth. With an up and down motion, start scraping off the food particles on the tooth. Next, use the floss to follow the curve of each tooth. Don’t forget to go under the gum line. Never put too much pressure on the gums or it could damage the soft tissues near the teeth.

Step 4: Move from tooth to tooth in clean sections. And with the same back and forth motion, bring the floss up and away from the teeth each time it scrapes the tooth clean.

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