Remember that brushing and flossing are the foundation of good oral hygiene. In addition, you must also visit your dentist for a professional cleaning a few times a year. The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth regularly using an interdental cleaner like dental floss.
But the problem is you might not have enough space between your teeth to use an interdental brush. In such cases, flossing teeth can be a feasible alternative. Learn from your dental team how best to use floss to clean your teeth.
You might have many questions regarding dental floss. Should you get the thick floss or the thin one? Should you buy the floss that is ‘super strong’? Is it reasonable to purchase flavored floss?
With so many questions in mind, you tend to have a mental debate with yourself. Here we answer your questions and discuss topics that are going to clear your confusion. We also explain the various dental floss types and the right technique to use them.
Correct Flossing Technique Using Dental Floss
If you floss every day, it is a good habit, and you should continue with it. But for dental floss to effectively remove food particles, you need to use the correct technique. Your dentist would suggest using interdental brushes in addition to brushing as part of your daily oral health routine once you develop permanent teeth.
The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day and floss your teeth at least once every day.
The starting point of all oral diseases in your mouth is the gum line. Hence make daily flossing an integral part of your oral health care routine. Flossing would help you to remove the stubborn plaque on teeth where your normal toothbrush does not reach.
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association explains the elements of proper flossing technique in four easy steps:
The first step is to wind one end of the 18 inches floss around the middle finger of one hand. Take the other end and wind onto your second hand’s middle finger or index finger.
Between the two fingers, you should have enough length of the floss. This length is required to ensure that you have sufficient clean segment free so that you can move the floss from one tooth to the other.
You should leave about one or two-inch length free between your fingers. Using both your thumbs, direct the floss between your upper teeth. Repeat the same for your lower teeth.
You should keep about a two-inch length of floss taut between your fingers. Use your index fingers to guide the dental floss between your two teeth as you clean between the teeth.
Once your floss is in the right position, guide gently between your teeth, use a zig-zag motion. Be extra cautious not to let the floss snap between your teeth. You should try to contour the floss around the side of your teeth, forming a C shape. Never glide the floss into your gums, as there are chances of scratching or bruising your gums.
The next crucial step is to slide the floss up and down against your tooth surface. Make sure you also floss the backside of each tooth.
As you floss from one tooth to another, keep unrolling a fresh section of the floss from your finger. Simultaneously, roll the used floss onto the other finger.
As you continue flossing, you should keep using the unused section of your floss thread. Keep using your thumb as a guide to control the floss.
Types of Dental Floss
Today there are several varieties of dental floss available in the market. Choosing a product like dental floss might seem overwhelming. But you should go wrong with the floss you choose as you need to use it regularly. Here are the different types of flossing options:
Waxed floss is a standard nylon floss that is used by the majority of people. It has a thin layer of wax on its surface, making it less likely to break. But the wax-coated floss is slightly thicker, and you might find it harder to use in tight spots.
Unwaxed floss is a very thin nylon floss and consists of approx 35 strands that are twisted together. It is easy to use and can fit into the tight spaces between your teeth. Especially if your teeth have very little gaps between teeth. But unwaxed floss can be prone to shredding or breaking.
Dental tape is flatter and much broader than standard floss. You can choose from either the waxed or unwaxed versions. If you have sufficient space between your teeth, you will find dental tape to be more comfortable to use than standard floss.
Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE) is the same material commonly used in the high-tech Gore-Tex fabric. The material is very convenient to use as it can easily slide between your teeth and is less likely to shred.
Super flosses are usually made from yarn-like material and have three components that work together. Super floss consists of a regular floss thread, spongy floss, and a dental floss threader with a stiff end.
You can easily use super floss to clean around teeth braces, lingual braces, dental bridges, or other dental fixtures. They also help remove plaque on teeth accumulated under the gum line.
The Technique in Easy Steps
This technique of using dental floss applies to any kind of floss you are using, which could be waxed, unwaxed, spongy floss, or even dental tape.
There is no problem with the type of floss you use, as long as you adhere to the correct technique. It is more of a personal preference. The type you choose should clean (teeth cleaning) your teeth thoroughly.
You can start flossing from your upper or lower teeth, or you can start from the back and move forward. Your aim should be to floss one tooth at a time completely. Do not forget to include the backside of your very last tooth on all four ends. And also, do not forget to floss under your gum line.
Even if you have any dental restorations like dentures, crowns, or dental implants, you need to floss correctly. Food might get trapped in these spaces.
Flossing can help you get rid of the excess food pieces and plaque-building microorganisms between your teeth. This will help improve your oral health.
If you pair flossing with twice-daily brushing using an electric toothbrush – it can extensively help remove food pieces and plaque from in-between your teeth. The rounded brush head and the micro-vibrating bristles will surround each tooth and clean it thoroughly.
Dental Floss for Effective Plaque Removal
After each meal, tiny food particles are left everywhere on your teeth and in your mouth. In addition, your saliva does a good job of continuously rinsing away a lot of food debris. Some food leftovers remain stuck on your teeth and gums. These particles should be flossed and brushed to get rid of them.
Do you know that your mouth has millions of natural, harmful bacteria that help break down the food particles? But over time, if the sticky build-up is not cleaned thoroughly, these bacteria will develop into plaque, a sticky film that your dentist should remove.
Everyone, including kids, should brush for at least two minutes, twice a day, and floss once a day to remove the harmful bacteria. These bacteria can do more harm to the baby teeth than permanent teeth.
You should visit your dentist to professionally remove food build-up and plaque from your teeth that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. Slowly these food build-ups can lead to dental complications. For instance, they might cause tooth decay, gum disease, and inflammation.
A very important question that many ask – when should you floss? Remember that you should floss your teeth once a day as it contributes to good oral health. Some people practice a routine of flossing immediately after brushing. However, your dentist would recommend flossing first and then brushing your teeth. Why?
Flossing will help to lift and release food and plaque stuck in between your teeth. Followed by brushing, these food particles will be removed from your mouth. If you do the reverse, brush first and floss afterward. All the food particles remain until the next time you brush.
Dental Floss Different Devices
1 Using an Electric Flosser
If you have a tough time manipulating a standard floss, electric flosses could be a good option for you. Electric flossers have special handles, and some come with angled heads to make the task easier. The floss can easily reach the back of your teeth.
The basic flossing techniques remain the same even if you choose to use an electric flosser. You should guide and glide the floss gently between the teeth. Then move the dental flosser back and forth, creating a zig-zag motion. Have trouble reaching the back of your teeth? Some flossers come with angled handles that might help you reach those tricky spots.
2 Using a Hand-held Flosser
If you opt to use a hand-held flosser, the flossing technique is just the same. Hold your flosser handle firmly and place the flossing tip at an angle on the teeth you want to floss.
Next, gently guide the dental floss between your teeth. Be careful not to pop or snap the floss. Use the same zig-zag motion to maneuver and bend the floss around each tooth. Also, clean all the sides of your teeth, including the gum line.
3 Flossing Around Dental Work
If you wear dental appliances like braces, proper flossing becomes more important to avoid getting floss caught on the brackets or wires. To clean your dental appliances, you can use special orthodontic floss. They come with a stiff end that you can use to clean under the main wire on your braces.
Else you can purchase a floss threader. Floss threads work with any floss. It is a flexible device that you can use to floss your teeth.
Remember, poor flossing techniques can lead to major complications. Moreover, you should be gentle yet thorough while using an electric flosser.
An electric flosser could be a good option if you have dental work or have difficulty flossing by hand. You can ask the team at the dental clinic to give you a demo if you are uncertain.
Proactive oral care would go a long way in maintaining your overall health. However, by keeping teeth and gums healthy, your teeth can be made available throughout life.