How to Floss!
Keeping your teeth and mouth healthy involve a regular oral care routine that includes brushing and flossing. Performing these activities regularly, and in the right way, is important for oral health, but many people are surprised to discover that they aren’t brushing and flossing properly. For example, proper brushing should take at least two minutes, and most adults don’t brush their teeth anywhere near that long. Make the most of your oral care routine by following these tips for proper flossing.
Importance of Flossing for Oral Health
Properly flossing your teeth is an essential part of maintaining good oral hygiene. Flossing removes build up and plaque that can form between the teeth; it helps prevent gum disease and tooth decay by cleaning tight spaces between your teeth and under your gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach. About 40 percent of your tooth surfaces are difficult or impossible to reach with your toothbrush alone. Learning, and practicing, proper flossing techniques will help keep your teeth beautiful and healthy for years to come. Flossing can seem like a chore or something it’s easy to skip, but once you get into a routine and develop the correct technique, it only takes a couple minutes and makes a big difference in your oral hygiene.
Daily Flossing is Recommended
Flossing your teeth once a day is recommended by the American Dental Association. Developing the habit of flossing at night before you go to bed is a great way to include flossing in your regular routine; then you don’t have to worry about flossing during the rest of the day. Flossing frequently throughout the day is actually ineffective and can cause irritation or damage to the sensitive gum tissue. Once a day achieves a good balance of keeping your teeth clean and avoiding irritation. If you feel like you need to clean between your teeth more often or that flossing is causing irritation to your gums, then talk to your dentist. They can help you determine if a different routine may be better for you.
Be Gentle when Flossing
A gentle touch is important when flossing. Often, people apply excessive pressure, use a forceful sawing motion, or snap their gums while flossing in an attempt to get their teeth clean. However, this kind of vigorous flossing can cause damage and lead to bleeding gums. Use a light touch instead; it effectively cleans your teeth without creating excessive trauma for your gums. Never snap or force the dental floss against your gums, but rather gently slide it into place using the side of your teeth.
Proper Flossing Technique
Unlike flossing excessively or with too much force, proper flossing leaves your teeth sparkling clean and free of pain. Include flossing in your daily routine either immediately before or after you brush your teeth. Begin by pulling about one and a half feet, or 18 inches, of dental floss from the dispenser. Wrap most of it around your middle fingers, leaving only an inch or two at a time to work with. Hold a small section tightly between your index fingers and thumbs, then gently slide it up and down against the side of each tooth. Hold the strand so that it forms a C shape that curves around each tooth and move it gently back and forth in a push-and-pull motion. Work slowly and gently to avoid using too much pressure, and remember to clean the base of each tooth under the gum line as well. Repeat the same push-and-pull motion to gently remove it from between your teeth, then move to a clean section of the strand before starting the next tooth. Discard the used strand after you finish flossing your teeth because it isn’t reusable.
Kinds of Flossing Materials
There are two basic kinds of floss available: nylon (multifilament) and PTFE (monofilament). The nylon type offers many choices because it’s available both waxed or unwaxed, and in a number of different flavors. It’s made of many different strands of nylon, so the downside is that it can sometimes shred or tear. This can be especially problematic between teeth with tight points of contact, making flossing difficult at times. PTFE is composed of a single filament which makes it virtually shred-resistant. It’s more expensive, but it slides easily between teeth, even when there are tight points of contact. This makes it ideal for people who have a difficult time flossing with the nylon type. However, both types work well to remove debris and plaque when used properly, so the kind you choose is up to your own personal preference. Try both types, and both waxed and unwaxed as well as a variety of flavors to discover a kind that you like and will use regularly. Your dentist is likely to have some samples they can give you to get you started trying different kinds. Having something you feel comfortable with goes a long way toward incorporating flossing into your daily routine.
Although flossing can seem like a hassle at times, it’s worth making the effort to learn how to do it properly and then include it in your daily routine. Proper flossing helps improve oral health and keep your teeth and mouth clean and healthy. It only takes a couple minutes, so start practicing today and begin developing this healthy habit.
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