Of all the things you can do to maintain a healthy mouth, flossing has got to be the least expensive!
But many patients don’t take the time to floss. And if you do, you might not be doing it correctly! Welcome to Flossing 101…
Why should you floss?
Your toothbrush isn’t enough to brush away the plaque that can build up between teeth and at the gumline. A complete dental routine includes both brushing and flossing.
How often should you floss?
Once a day is ideal. Believe it or not, flossing more often (or with more rigor) can damage your gums. The only exception to once-a-day flossing is if you need to remove pieces of stringy or sticky foods that get stuck after eating. Don’t leave those in there too long.
Should you floss before or after brushing?
Either one is fine!
How should you floss?
Pull out about 18 inches of floss (any brand is fine). Wind the floss tightly around your index or middle fingers on both hands so that the floss between your hands is taut. Slide the floss between each set of teeth that touch, as well as where your last molar meets your gums.
Slide the floss up and down the teeth, following the natural curve of each tooth in a “C” shape. Imagine the floss giving each tooth a little hug! Floss between teeth and where your teeth meet your gums. Use a new clean section of floss for each set of teeth.
For a helpful infographic, use this one from the American Dental Association. You can also ask your hygienist to show you how to floss at your next visit.
If arthritis in your hands or another condition prevents you from flossing adequately, consider a dental pick, oral irrigator, or electric flosser.