The Dentist’s Guide to Flossing Correctly

Dentist's Guide to FlossingFlossing. It must be one of the most important and least popular health practices in existence.

You may have heard before that it’s as important (if not more important) than brushing your teeth, but there’s still a good chance that you don’t do it very often. And if you do floss on a regular basis, there’s a good chance that you don’t do it properly.

If you slide a little string haphazardly between each pair of teeth and call it a day, then it’s time to learn the right way so that the time you do devote to this critical oral hygiene practice actually contributes to your dental health.

Don’ts:

  • Wrap Around Your Index Fingers

Most people tend to wrap string floss around the index finger on both hands, but the fact is that this type of hold makes it harder to control the floss and to reach between your back teeth. You’ll find that if you wrap the floss around your middle fingers instead, you’ll have greater control and a much easier time getting the floss to those hard-to-reach spots in the back.

  • Don’t Go Straight Up & Down

Sliding floss straight down between your teeth and back up again is not only an ineffective way to do the job, but it can actually damage your gums. It’s important to keep in mind that the whole point of flossing is to scrape plaque-causing bacteria from the inner side of each tooth, where your toothbrush bristles don’t reach. So, what you should really be doing is sliding it up and down along the side of each tooth.

  • Don’t Hold Floss Super Tautly

Remember that your goal is to clean as much of the tooth as you possibly can when you floss, so holding the string very tautly will not allow you to do that. You should be curving it slightly so that it  makes a sort of C-shape around each tooth as you slide it up and down. Then, keeping the floss in the same spot, curve it the opposite way to clean the other tooth.

Do’s:

  • Do It Everyday… Or as Often as Possible

You absolutely should be flossing your teeth every single night before bed. Just as you need to brush every day to clean the tops, inner and outer surfaces of your teeth, you need to floss to clean in between your teeth. But (and I probably shouldn’t be saying this), flossing every couple of days or even once a week is better than not flossing at all. I’m not by any means recommending sporadic flossing, but merely letting you know that if you skip a night or 2, you shouldn’t just give up entirely.

  • Try Other Types of Floss

Traditional string floss can be a challenge to use and if that’s what’s making you avoid flossing, then you should try some other options like interdental brushes and floss picks, which some people find easier to use.

  • Seek to Improve

Just because you’re not a pro flosser now, doesn’t mean you can’t become one. It’s never too late to learn proper flossing techniques that will go a long way in ensuring your dental health. If you struggle with the practice, consider watching some instructional YouTube videos or asking your dentist for some pointers at your next checkup.

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