When patients come in to our Santa Monica dentistry, we always teach them the three steps of good oral health: brush, floss and use mouthwash. However, when our patients still came in with food deposits and plaque on their teeth, yet they swore that they followed the three steps twice a day, we realized that some people don’t know the correct way to floss. In addition to brushing your teeth for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush, there is a method as to how to floss properly. We’ve shared it with our patients, and now we’ll share it with you, our readers.
Why Flossing is Important
Although most people know that they need to floss their teeth, what is the real reason that knowing how to floss is so important? Even if you religiously brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, a toothbrush can miss some places in your mouth. For example, it’s almost impossible to reach the space between your teeth or under your gums with a brush, only dental floss can do the trick.
If you don’t floss in the hard-to-reach places, you have a greater chance of plaque accumulating on your teeth and gums, and causing oral health problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Types of Dental Floss
In a previous article about the history of dental floss, we explained what floss is: “Dental floss consists of a string-like material made from plastic or silk in a container. The string is inserted in between teeth to remove food and dental plaque for optimal teeth cleaning. Dental floss can be waxed or unwaxed, and flavored or unflavored. It is found in most drugstores and food retailers around the country.”
Floss can be either nylon or single filament (PTFE). Colgate explains that: “Nylon floss is available waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavors. Because this type of floss is composed of many strands of nylon, it may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points. While more expensive, single filament (PTFE) floss slides easily between teeth, even those with tight spaces between teeth, and is virtually shred-resistant.”
How to Floss Properly
Colgate provides these steps on how to floss properly:
- “Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
- Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth
- Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
- Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
- To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth”
For more information about learning how to floss, contact your local Santa Monica dentistry, Hale & Hale, DDS.