How to Use Dental Floss Correctly

Calgary SW Dentist Signal HillA simple guide to making sure you gain the full benefits of flossing.

It is a simple piece of waxed tape that when used correctly, is a powerful tool for keeping your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. By why floss?

Why Floss?

As we eat, particles of food become wedged between teeth and under gums. Even with a high-quality electric toothbrush and diligent brushing twice a day, these food particles can often be hard to reach.

Some will dislodge and be washed away of their own accord; some don’t, and it is these trapped pieces of food that harbour bacteria. Left unchecked, bacteria start to build up leading to bad breath, cavities and gum disease.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you to floss, gum disease is an inflammatory disorder that can lead to major problems throughout the body.

If you don’t floss you are failing to clean one-third of the tooth surface.

What is Flossing?

To floss, you would use a small piece of waxed string – we look at other flossing products next – to gently remove food and particles from in-between your teeth, using a see-saw action.

  1.              Using around 18 inches of floss, wind each end around each middle finger so that you have an expanse of floss to work with
  2.            Hold the floss tight (you may need your thumb and index finger to do this) and slide it up and down between your teeth

  III.        Now, gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth. Make sure the floss is below the gum line and clean the area gently – don’t force the floss or snap it

  1.           Repeat this action for all of your teeth, including the back teeth – a little trickier, we know but using the floss as a loop can make it easier
  2.            Use fresh parts of the floss as you use it and don’t forget to use a gentle see-saw action as you use it.

Which Floss Should I Use?

There are different flossing products on the market, so you are bound to find one that suits you;

  •         Waxed or unwaxed – both work just as well for removing detritus from in between teeth although waxed can be easier to slide between teeth and is less likely to shred with the movement too.
  •         Flavored – there are no calories and no sugar to ruin your teeth and some people find the flavored version makes for a more pleasant flossing experience. This is your own personal preference!
  •         Tape floss – this is where you remove a length of tape from its container and snap it off. It is easier to use as you can ‘tie’ it to your fingers in the way that suits you and allows you freedom of movement in the mouth.
  •         Floss picks – these are disposable, pre-threaded floss ‘holders’ that are great for ‘flossing on the go’. They can also useful for cleaning the back corners of your mouth.

You don’t have to stick to one flossing product; you may find that more than one product is right for you.

How Often Should You Floss?

Dentists encourage patients to floss a minimum of once a day, preferably before you go to bed. This is because we produce less saliva at night, thus there is less to carry away food and other detritus in the mouth. Flossing and brushing your teeth before bed is essential for great oral health.

What Comes First – Flossing or Brushing?

It is hard to find a definitive answer because, say some, it doesn’t matter as long as you floss. However, the idea is to remove detritus from your teeth and so floss first, swill your mouth out with water, and then brush your teeth for at least two minutes.

Do You Floss?

If you need help with an effective flossing technique, why not have a chat with our dental team at Signal Hill Dental Centre?