According to the American Dental Association (ADA), all adults and children should floss once each day. Easy and inexpensive, flossing carries no risk of harm, and it can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Yet many people are unsure how to perform this simple routine. Here is a complete guide to flossing teeth.
Benefits of Flossing
Removing Bacteria and Debris: Bacteria and debris can get stuck in the spaces around and between the teeth, where your toothbrush cannot penetrate. Flossing removes what brushing leaves behind.
Gum Protection: Flossing also removes debris and bacteria that gets trapped in the gum line. Gum disease begins with gingivitis, a mild irritation, but it can gradually progress to tooth loss. Flossing is an excellent first line of defense against gum disease.
Saving Money: Like brushing, flossing is a cheap form of dental care. Who wants to pay for pricey dental procedures down the line, when you can keep your mouth healthy for just pennies per day?
Improving Health: Oral health is linked to overall health. Flossing is a great way to help prevent the dangerous systemic diseases such as heart attack or stroke that can come with tooth decay.
Cosmetic Improvements: No one wants to end up with food stuck between their teeth at a job interview or on a hot date. Flossing is an easy way to make the most of your smile.
The official name for “flossing” is interdental cleaning, which means cleaning between the teeth. Most people are familiar with dental floss, which is made from filament and may be waxed and flavored. There are also plastic or wooden interdental cleaning tools, as well as the Waterpik, which cleans with a jet of water. Your dentist can help you decide which tool is best for you.
Proper Use of Dental Floss
Dental floss can be confusing. Here are instructions for proper use:
- Pull out roughly 18 inches of floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving a one or two-inch gap between them.
- Pull the floss taut with your thumbs and index fingers.
- Place the floss between two adjacent teeth and slide it firmly but gently up and down.
- Gently move the floss to the base of one of the teeth and carefully work it beneath the gumline. Repeat for the other tooth.
- Move to a clean section of the floss and repeat the process for the next two teeth. Continuing moving around your mouth until you have flossed all teeth.
Flossing is an easy and highly effective way to improve your oral hygiene, but many people simply don’t know how to do it. Follow the tips above, and never hesitate to reach out to your dentist or hygienist for additional instructions or even a demonstration.