The Ultimate Guide to Dental Flossing

Taking care of your oral health ensures you have sparkling teeth and a dazzling smile. Dental flossing is as important as brushing to ensure great oral health. Less people take dental flossing as seriously as brushing.

This guide will make sure that at the end of it you know all details about dental flossing, how to do it and why it is important. Stay with us and learn what you need to know.

What is Dental Flossing?

After you consume food, bacteria in your mouth can combine with food particles, grow and produce a sticky film that builds up on and around your teeth. It is called plaque. It is important to stop this build up as it can continue to produce tartar that can gather in spaces between your teeth.

The plaque and tartar build up is harmful for your teeth. It can go on to cause many dental problems like gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth decay, gum inflammation, etc. and overall decline in oral health.

It is a widely recommended by doctors to improve gums and teeth. Therefore, it is important to keep brushing and flossing part of your daily routine. Flossing is especially recommended to people whose teeth are crowded together and have narrow gaps among their teeth.

dental flossing as shown by a man

But I Brush My Teeth… Why Do I Need to Floss?

Brushing does help clean surface of your teeth, but their bristles are unable to reach gaps inside of your teeth. Flossing solves this dilemma by cleaning out gaps between teeth and their unreachable corners.

A dental floss is basically kind of a thread that slides into gaps, nooks and corners to dislodge any stuck food or plaque pile up. Flossing action makes it possible to keep any food particles out of your teeth to prevent tartar and subsequent disease.

Dental flossing is as important as brushing

When Should You Floss?

Generally, doctors recommend flossing once daily along with brushing teeth twice a day.

Some people floss after brushing their teeth. Doctors, on the other hand, recommend flossing before brushing because particles that come out of gaps can stay in your mouth. Brushing helps removing those particles from your mouth so it should ideally be done after flossing.

What Age is Appropriate to Start Dental Flossing?

It is a good idea to make children start flossing from a young age to make it a habit, but it is important to know when your children should start flossing as recommended by doctors.

Children should start flossing when their milk teeth get replaced with permanent teeth. Around age 12 is the time when that can happen, and they can start flossing then. Obviously, it can differ from child to child so keep that in mind.

It is also important to seek advice from a practitioner before doing that. Interproxa brushes are a good alternative of flossing for children. Children who floss enjoy better oral health which is why you should encourage your children to floss daily.

A woman showing how to floss

What is The Proper Technique For Dental Flossing?

Many people complain that flossing is difficult and at times painful. It should not be if you are following the right technique. As always, we have got your back if you don’t know the proper technique. Following is a step-by-step guide to get to know the proper method for dental flossing.

  1. Break off a section of your dental floss around 18 inches in length.
  2. Wrap most of the floss around your middle fingers while leaving 1 to 2 inches for flossing.
  3. Now hold your floss taut between fingers of both hand that can slide through teeth gaps for cleaning.
  4. Place your floss in between two teeth. Use upward and downward gliding motion against the side of your teeth to clean. Do not push into the gums and make sure to use gentle movement to avoid any difficulty or pain.
  5. When the floss reaches the base of your tooth just above your gum, curve the floss in C shape to access the space between your gum and tooth on both sides.
  6. Make sure to repeat this treatment for cleaning all of your teeth.
  7. Keep moving on from dirty to clean sections of the floss by reeling in dirty section on a finger of one hand and loosening the clean part from the other hand.
  8. Discard the floss after cleaning all teeth. Do not reuse your floss again as it is full of bacteria from your mouth that you can risk reintroducing if you reuse your floss.

Make sure not to glide your floss into your gums. It can cause bleeding from scratching.

Dental Floss Pick

Types of Floss:

There are many varieties of floss available in the market, but it is important to find a quality product. These types can be used by different people based on their preferences, on the gap between their teeth or if they wear any corrective equipment like braces or bridges. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered if you don’t know your dental floss types.

Following are some of the types that you can choose from. It is also important to consult your dentist if any kind of floss is not working out for you. Your doctor might have a suggestion for you based on your teeth structure and condition. Always consult professionals in such circumstances.

Waxed Floss

It is made of nylon strands with a light wax coating which makes it easier to slide in gaps. Waxing makes the floss a little thicker which prevents breaking of floss but also makes it difficult to get in smaller gaps. It may also be slippery because of waxy texture. It may come flavored as well.

Unwaxed Floss

It is made of thin nylon strands which can help clean tight spaces between teeth. Unwaxed floss is not slippery and easier to grip. It is quite thin so it can break easily. It is a great option to use for teeth that are placed together tightly.

Dental Tape

Dental floss is thicker and flatter which makes it easier for it to be used by people with big gaps between their teeth. Since it is thick, it is also less likely to break. It comes in both waxed and unwaxed forms.

Super Floss

Super floss comes in pre-cut form with stiff ends that help navigate it through narrow gaps. This form is good for people who have braces and bridges where normal floss is no good at cleaning their teeth.

PTFE Floss

It is made of polytetrafluorethylene that is normally used in Teflon pans. It makes it easier to use for people who have crowded teeth. The element polytetrafluorethylene is considered by some to be a possible carcinogenic so it might not be best for everyone to use it. Consult your doctor before using this floss.

Biodegradable Floss

This is a biodegradable option which is an environmentally friendly option. The floss is made of silk that can compost quickly.

Water Flosser

As the name suggests, the machine shoots jets of water in steady pulses that are used to clean plaque, food particles or any build up in your teeth. You can follow same technique of cleaning as you would do with an ordinary floss. People with braces and bridges can also use it without any problem. It is an easier way to floss but it is expensive.

Electric Flosser

Electric flosser uses a string made of nylon that moves in an oscillating motion to bring about the effect of flossing. It can be used easily by those who find it difficult to floss but it is expensive. This machine tends to be hard on your gums so it can damage your gums. You need to be careful while using it.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are also available for people who find it difficult to floss. A piece of stretched floss is placed on a stick that is generally made of plastic. It can be similarly used for flossing as an ordinary floss. Since floss picks are made of plastic, these are considered bad for the environment and we would not encourage you to use those.

smiling woman with bright teeth

Flossing vs. Interdental Brushes

Interdental brush is a kind of brush that is designed to remove plaque like floss does. It has bristles that can remove plaque from tiny gaps. Both products have their advantages.

Floss is generally better than interdental brush in terms of reaching narrow gaps or cleaning tightly crowded teeth than an interdental brush.

Doctors offer advice for recommendation that based a number of factors like gap between teeth, periodontal disease, mouth size, oral hygiene etc. Therefore, it is better to consult doctor before deciding between flossing and interdental brush.

Are You a Dental Floss Nerd Now?

We have made sure to provide you information about dental flossing which might have been enough for you to become a dental floss nerd. JK. The purpose of this dental floss guide is to provide you information with which you can make an informed decision. Hopefully, you can do that.

Also, make sure to contact your dentist or see us at Dr Amal Al Qedrah Medical Center, if you have any problems regarding flossing. A professional dentist can make a better recommendation suited to your teeth in that case.

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