How To Floss: Everything You Need To Know
We all know that brushing our teeth is important. And most of us know the rule of thumb when it comes to brushing: Brush twice a day for two minutes at a time using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Even then, one 2009 study reported that many patients only brush for 45 seconds at a time! According to the National Library of Medicine, a toothbrush cannot altogether remove plaque from proximal surfaces (surfaces that are next to each other). This makes flossing all the more important to our oral care routines, yet only 42% of people floss. This begs the question: If flossing is so important, what can you do to make it happen?
Are you one of the 58% of Americans that don’t floss? We sure hope not. But if you are, we’re here to help you turn that around. After all, the question should not be whether to floss or not. The fact is that flossing is just as important (if not more) than brushing and is a great way to show your smile some love. Further, flossing helps prevent cavities and gum disease. So we have put together some tips to help you make flossing a part of your daily hygiene routine.
How To Floss Properly
Just like there is a proper brushing technique, there is a certain way to floss too. Per the American Dental Association (ADA), there are five steps to a flawless floss. Using about 18” of floss, wind it around your two middle fingers and then hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Avoid snapping the floss into the gums. Instead, use a gentle rubbing motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Once you near the gumline, pull the floss into the shape of a C against your tooth and gently guide it in an up-and-down motion to dislodge plaque, then move to the other side and do the same. Repeat this process between all of your teeth, and do not forget to get behind your back teeth. If you learn better visually, check out this video for further instructions on how to floss properly.
What Not To Do While Flossing
As we mentioned earlier, avoid snapping the floss into the gums. And while it can be beneficial to floss after meals, don’t avoid the most important time: before bed. Bedtime is the best time for flossing your teeth as it loosens food particles and debris that your toothbrush can’t reach to prevent that bacteria from hanging out overnight undisturbed. Brush afterward to sweep all those loosened particles away. Also, don’t give up on flossing if you see blood. If you are seeing blood, it could be a sign that you are not flossing frequently enough or you need to revisit how you floss (so be sure to review the instructions we provided above).
Floss before you brush to get into a habit of it.
Developing an oral care routine at home is critical to your oral health success. So each day, be sure to follow these tips.
- You should be flossing your teeth at least once per day or after meals, depending on your particular dental situation. The best time of day for flossing is before bed.
- Brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time using a soft-bristled toothbrush. The best times of day to brush your teeth are in the morning and before bed, after you are done eating and drinking for the day.
- Rinse your mouth with fluoridated mouthwash if desired or if recommended by your dentist. This may help to rid your mouth of any remaining bacteria your flossing and brushing may have missed.
Find the best type of dental floss for you.
The key here is not the type of floss you use but how you go about flossing. We recommend starting with your dentist’s choice. However, if you want to find the right type of floss on your own as part of your journey on how to floss better, you should know that the ADA has indicated no difference in the effectiveness of waxed vs. unwaxed floss. Further, the floss may include flavoring agents such as mint to help create a more enjoyable flossing experience.
You may, however, prefer a different type of flossing device than the traditional floss that you wrap around your fingers and glide between your teeth. A common alternative, especially for large spaces between the teeth, is an interdental brush. You may also prefer flossing picks, which are easier to hold if you have limited dexterity due to conditions like arthritis. The bottom line? Find the best type of dental floss that works for you, make it part of your oral care kit, and floss every day.
Teach your kids flossing when they are young.
At Valley Dental Clinic, the best family dentist near Anchorage, Alaska, we encourage parents to start flossing their children’s teeth as soon as two teeth are touching. But most kids aren’t ready to floss their own teeth until they are in the second or third grade. For this reason, parents should do the flossing until the child can floss on their own. Be patient when teaching your child to floss, keeping in mind that the right flossing technique takes dexterity that they may not yet have. The message here, however, is that by introducing your children to flossing when they are young, it will be easier for them to make it a daily habit when they are older.
Show us your flossing at your next dental appointment with Valley Dental Clinic.
We’ll own it. We’re flossing nerds, and we love talking to our patients about how to protect their oral health. So at your next visit with the dental team at Valley Dental Clinic, show us how to floss! We love seeing our patients getting their flossing game on and doing it right. And if you don’t quite have the technique down, don’t worry. We’ll help you out.
If you are overdue for your preventive dental cleaning and oral evaluation, now is the time to contact us and request an appointment. We look forward to seeing you and chatting about all things related to flossing (the dental kind, that is).