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A Complete Guide to Flossing Teeth

For most people, flossing is a hassle. There is a reason at every dental checkup your dentist asks about your flossing habits, and that is because it is crucial for your oral health. Although it really is a simple task, many don’t understand the importance and do not take the time to do it. It also can be hard to remember to floss because it is such an uneventful part of someone’s day but keep reading to learn tips on how to make it a priority. This guide will go through the importance of flossing your teeth, how to use floss, and how to floss with braces.

The importance of flossing

Keeping up with oral hygiene involves more than just brushing your teeth twice a day and your teeth will never be fully clean if you neglect flossing. When you floss, you have the ability to clean the parts of the tooth’s surface a toothbrush cannot reach. This should be integrated into your daily routine because flossing helps remove excess food and built up plaque between teeth. By not removing debris between your teeth, the harmful bacteria can cause issues like tooth decay, cavities and gingivitis. Flossing is not only important for oral health but for overall health as well. Untreated gingivitis can turn into gum disease which has been linked to health concerns like heart disease and diabetes. Flossing is a mundane activity, however, the potential consequences of not flossing should motivate you to make it a priority in your life. The best time to floss is right before you go to bed, or the second time you brush your teeth. Some good ways to remember to floss is to set your floss next to your toothbrush as a reminder, or by setting an alarm on your phone for the same time every day.

How to use floss

There are many different types of floss available including waxed floss, unwaxed, spongy, hand-held flossers and electric water flossers. You can use whichever dental flossing tool you prefer, as long as you use proper technique. It doesn’t matter if you start with your lower or upper teeth, or start from the front or back. The general technique of flossing, steps 4 and 5, is very similar for each type of floss:

  1. Make sure you have clean hands before they enter your mouth.
  2. Take about 18 inches of floss and wrap it around your index fingers or middle fingers leaving an inch or two between. It may seem like a lot, but you will want it long enough to have a clean piece of floss for each tooth.
  3. Pinch the floss with your thumbs and index fingers to guide the floss around your mouth.
  4. While you hold the floss tightly, use a zig-zag motion and gently direct it between each tooth.
  5. Make a ‘C’ shape around each tooth then slide the floss up and down the tooth’s surface and gum line.
  6. As you move from tooth to tooth, unwrap a fresh section of floss from your fingers.

How to floss with braces

With wires and brackets in the way, brushing and flossing becomes more complicated and can take up to three times longer than without braces. It is important as ever to floss daily when you have braces to decrease your chances of decay, disease and white spots on your teeth. Bacteria likes to trap itself in the hard to reach places and when you have braces this includes the areas surrounding each bracket. To successfully floss your teeth with braces you will need waxed floss and a floss threader.

  1. Take about 18 inches of floss and loop it through the threader.
  2. Guide the straight end of the threader under the wire.
  3. Once the floss is under the wire, you can floss as mentioned above.
  4. Remove the floss and rethread it for each tooth.

Children and flossing

A child’s teeth should start being flossed once their teeth are close together which is typically between the ages of 2 and 6. Children do not usually have the ability to floss on their own until around age 10. It is important for parents to floss their child’s teeth daily not only for their oral health but also to develop the habit for the child. If flossing is already a part of the child’s routine, they are more likely to keep flossing daily once they have the ability to floss without help. The same technique as mentioned above will be used for children, however, it is important to use soft and flexible floss.

Take control of your oral health with daily flossing! At Fortson Dentistry, we encourage our patients to make flossing a priority in their lives so they can avoid future dental issues while maintaining their beautiful smiles.