Flossing Teeth: How to Do It

flossing teeth

After brushing, flossing teeth is the most important step in oral care.

You need to floss your teeth at least once a day.

It helps to remove the food debris and particles stuck inside your teeth that brushing cannot remove.

There is also a biofilm of bacteria, plaque in between teeth where the toothbrush does not reach.

If you do not remove it then it can cause cavities, gingivitis, gum disease and staining.

Do you know that only 4 in 10 Americans floss daily?

One reason could be that it is hard to properly floss.

If you worry about that don’t worry.

This article covers how you should floss and why it is important. Keep reading to know more!

dad and child flossing teeth together

Why Should You Floss?

Your mouth contains several bacteria.

These can form a biofilm known as plaque.

Your manual or electric toothbrush can reach up to 60 percent of tooth surfaces.

The rest of the surfaces are either interdental spaces or sides of teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach.

Though the bacteria can easily accumulate in these spaces because the brush cannot reach there and they keep getting nutrition.

Soon, your gums will start bleeding indicating early gingivitis.

Besides, you may also get a tooth cavity and tooth decay.

Your oral health will stay improper as long as there are food particles and plaque build-up between teeth.

Hence, you need to floss.

Unlike a toothbrush, a string of dental floss is like a thread.

You slide it down your teeth to clean areas where the bristles of a toothbrush can certainly not penetrate.

Plus, it is thin so it can easily reach the narrowest of space between your teeth.

An alternative to dental flossing is using an interdental brush.

However, if your teeth lack enough pace then an interdental brush cannot fix in.

Though a single thread of floss can!

Hence, even if you brush, you need to access the hard-to-reach areas between your teeth and the back of your teeth.

This is where floss comes in handy to remove the plaque from all the nooks and corners of your mouth.

You can not be plaque-free but at least you can reduce a lot of it to keep your mouth healthy.

There are several types of floss that you can use to clean your teeth.

Find out more about them below!

floss tools

Flossing Tools and Types

The different types of floss aid in cleaning your teeth according to your needs and teeth structure.

This is a different one for less space in between teeth, a separate one for orthodontic appliances and another one for flavorings or other preferences.

Standard Floss

The most common of these is the standard floss.

It is basically a nylon strand that comes in two forms:

  • Unwaxed
  • Waxed

The unwaxed floss is thinner, even if it is made of 35 nylon strands twisted together.

While that is a pro, making it easier to reach hard areas, it is also a con.

It is quite prone to breaking and shredding.

That said, it can reach between teeth that are very close together.

Plus, it does not contain any artificial flavorings, hence, it does not contain any chemicals.

The waxed floss is stronger because of the addition of a layer of wax on the nylon strand.

Moreover, it also glides better than unwaxed floss.

However, it is thicker, which means that it does not reach teeth that are close together.

Furthermore, it is not that easy to grip it as its counterpart.

Dental Tape 

Dental tape is thicker in size hence it is easier to move around for braces and larger gaps in teeth.

It is almost like ribbon or real tape as it is flat.

However, because it is thick enough, you cannot get it between crowding and teeth with less space in between.

Water Flosser 

There are tons of traditional floss but new technology keeps developing to aid dental procedures.

A water flosser or electric flosser works to clean the food debris and plaque from your mouth using a strong water flow.

It is especially useful for people with teeth braces to remove stuck food particles where traditional floss cannot reach as well as for children and senior adults who lack the dexterity to hold the floss.

Though dentists do not recommend replacing traditional floss with water floss.

It can be an addition to your floss routine, not an alternative.

man maintain oral hygiene

Super Floss

This type of loss best suits people with larger gaps and those who have dental work such as braces and bridges.

It contains three elements:

  • Regular floss -It works to remove any plaque or debris present below the gum line
  • Stiff end threader- It helps to clean below the orthodontic appliances
  • Spongy floss- It cleans around the appliances, not underneath them

The stiffer sections around the ends of the floss helps to maneuver it around the braces, bridges and other dental work.

Whereas it is not ideal for teeth with a narrower gap.

PTFE (Polytetrafluorethylene) Floss

Polytetrafluorethylene is a very strong material.

Hence, you do not have to worry about it shredding and breaking.

It also smoothly glides down teeth to clean them effectively.

Plus, it can also fit in small gaps easily.

However, it has a glaring flaw.

The production of PTFE floss uses a carcinogen.

This can be dangerous for your health and immune system.

Hence, it is better to use some other traditional floss instead.

Floss Picks 

These disposable picks are easier to use and you can discard them after one use.

They are useful for children who may not keep floss holders clean especially if that keeps them away from flossing regularly.

They can simply throw it after use.

steps to flossing teeth

Flossing Teeth: The Proper Way To Do It

Follow this step-by-step guide to understand how to floss teeth properly with and without braces.

Flossing Normally

  1. Take around 18 to 24 inches of floss
  2. Wind it around both your middle fingers tightly
  3. Spare only 2 inches to use in between your teeth
  4. Hold it tightly using your thumb and index finger
  5. Use the forefinger to guide the floss, especially in lower teeth
  6. Place it in between two teeth and gently slide it up and down
  7. Do not let it snap or break, use gentle up and down motion to prevent that
  8. Beware of gliding on the gums which can cut them resulting in bleeding
  9. In fact, when it reaches the gums, it is time to curve it in a C-shape to reach the area between the teeth and gums
  10. Pull it upwards from near the gumline coming towards the top of the tooth
  11. Move across each tooth while unrolling a fresh piece of floss from the middle finger of one hand and pushing the used piece to the winding part of the other hand
  12. Cover each tooth including the back ones which have ridges and grooves.

steps for cleaning

Flossing with an Orthodontic Appliance such as Braces 

Use waxed floss, dental tape, or super floss to clear plaque and food between braces.

However, you can also use an electric or water flosser.

For traditional flossing, use these steps:

  1. Use about 18 to 24 inches of floss
  2. Thread it in between your teeth and the wire. Do it in front of a mirror
  3. Guide the movement of the floss by twisting the loose end on the forefinger
  4. Press it in between gently and also move it up and down as you normally would
  5. Clean your upper teeth by gliding your floss up to the gumline of one tooth and gliding it down the other. This is an upturned U
  6. Remove the thread from the wire and between your teeth gently
  7. Do not pop or harshly remove the floss as it can dislodge or break the wire
  8. Keep repeating the procedure for the rest of your teeth

Flossing teeth whit braces will take longer than a normal floss session.

Spare 10 to 15 minutes of your day for this as it can ensure that your treatment goes smoothly.

child flossing teeth

When Should You Start Flossing Teeth?

Ideally, you should start flossing as soon as your two baby teeth start touching.

However, your parents will do it for you and as parents, yous should do it for your children.

It is hard to make children floss, hence you can give them a flavored floss to make them look forward to using it or purchase a water flosser to make it easy for them to floss when they have enough dexterity.

Though, you should still supervise them when they do it once a day.

You may be wondering what is the best time to reap the flossing teeth benefits.

You will be surprised to know that dentists recommend flossing before brushing.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), yous should brush twice a day and floss at least once.

Both have similar but different purposes.

When you brush your teeth, you remove food particles and plaque from your mouth.

While when you floss, you remove the debris and plaque on teeth and in between teeth.

Hence, brushing first does not eliminate the food debris and plaque from your mouth even if it cleans the teeth.

Therefore, brushing should be the final step sans using a mouthwash.

Summing Up 

Flossing Teeth helps to maintain your oral hygiene and keeps your mouth clean.

It is mandatory to do it at least once a day sparing 5 to 10 minutes.

This way your oral health and dnetal hygiene can last well for a long time.

So if you haven’t purchased your dental floss yet, what are you waiting for?


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