6 Helpful Tips to Floss Your Teeth Better

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Dreading the F Word (Floss)

Are you the type of person that knows that flossing is good for you, but you find it hard to do?

You are not alone.

It may seem simple in concept, but effectively cleaning the areas between teeth requires good technique, practice and building a habit of doing it regularly. In this article, you will find six helpful tips to improve tooth flossing that will give you the confidence to do it more often, quickly and effectively. 

Table of Contents

Why is Flossing Important?

Regular use of dental floss removes Plaque. Plaque is the soft mass of bacteria, food and debris that builds up around your teeth. If left sitting around your teeth for long periods of time, the plaque will calcify and turn into hard deposits known as Calculus. Calculus is difficult, if not impossible, to remove without the help of a dental hygienist at your next dental cleaning.

Chronically unhealthy, inflamed gums, which is a condition known as Gingivitis, can increase your risk of losing teeth or needing a root canal. Even though twice-daily tooth brushing is essential for good oral hygiene, brushing alone will not protect you from gum disease and tooth loss.

Flossing daily will protect you from gingivitis by removing plaque and food particles before it calcifies into hard calculus. It will keep your teeth and gums healthy, while giving you a beautiful, white smile. Flossing is essential to your oral health, no matter what your age. And yes, even kids should floss to help them build to a healthy oral care routine. 

Tip #1: Take the Time to Learn Proper Flossing Technique

Flossing is a skill that everyone should know. But oddly enough, nobody teaches it in school. Moreover, how often do you get your dentist to actually spend the time teaching you how to floss? Almost never. Some people will just quickly snap the floss in and out between the teeth. However, that is an ineffective and possibly harmful way to floss. You can cut your gums and make them bleed.

Cut a piece of floss approximately 12 inches to 18 inches in length. You want to wrap the around your index fingers. Then, pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers, leaving 1 to 2 inches of floss in between. If you have your own way of holding the floss, that works too. As long as you are able to keep taut the 1 to 2 inches of floss between your fingers.

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Use your thumbs to gently pass the floss through the contact between two teeth. Do not snap floss between your teeth forcefully. This can cause your gums to bleed.

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Hugging the floss around the round contour of one tooth on one side of the contact, gently rub/glide the floss up and down the tooth surface and under the gum line. In this way, you are physically scrapping whatever bacteria, food and debris that is clinging to the tooth.

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When you are finished with that one side, wrap the floss around the tooth beside it, then do the same thing, gently gliding the floss up and down the tooth surface and under the gum.

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When you are done, remove the floss from in between the tooth and move onto the next contact.

Tip #2: Choose the Right Floss

There are a variety of floss materials in the market.

Nylon floss is the most common and economical floss available.

Some people get discouraged from flossing because nylon floss sometimes cannot pass easily between the teeth. Sometimes, nylon floss can easily shred.

If tearing floss is a problem that frustrates you, consider using waxed nylon floss or PTFE floss.

PTFE is short for Polytetrafluoroethylene and is commonly known as Teflon. Teflon floss is very shred resistant. 

If you are looking for an environmentally friendly option that will biodegrade more readily, look for a silk floss.

Tip #3: Dental Flossers are a Great Alternative to Traditional Floss

For some people, flossing is difficult because they have problems with their hands, such as arthritis. Other people find flossing to be very clumsy. Alternatively, some people are very busy and cannot find the time to fit flossing in their daily routine. If any of these individuals sound like you, you may want to buy some handy Dental Flossers.  

dental-flosser

Dental flossers are a c-shaped plastic tool with floss between the arms of the C, and a handle. They allow you to easily pass floss between your teeth with just one hand and with minimal hand-eye coordination.

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Just like with regular floss, you still want to hug the floss strand in the flosser against the side of the tooth, rubbing it up and down the surface of the tooth and underneath the gum. The other end of the flosser will typically have a tooth pick feature that you can use to push out any large pieces of food chunks like meat that get caught between the teeth.

Remember to discard the dental flosser after single use! 

Tip #4: Use Floss Threaders to get under Dental Bridges, Braces, or Lingual Wires

For people that have lingual wires bonded to the backside of his teeth, dental bridges replacing missing teeth, or are wearing orthodontic braces, flossing teeth becomes next to impossible.

This is where Floss Threaders come to the rescue! 

Floss threaders are plastic flexible needles, often made of nylon. They are helpful in passing floss between lingual wires, orthodontic wires, and under dental bridges.

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Insert one end of the dental floss about five inches into the loop of the threader.

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Pass the floss threader under or over any dental appliance such as braces, permanent retainer or bridge.

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Remove the threader from the floss. As you would with regular floss, gently floss the sides of your teeth.

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You can find floss threaders in the dental care section of nearly every grocery store or pharmacy and it can be used with any kind of floss. Many threaders are reusable, but others are meant to be disposed after single use. If you’re choosing a reusable floss threader, be sure to rinse with warm water after every use.

Tip #5: Buy Yourself a Waterpik Water Flosser

The Waterpik Water Flosser is a very popular tool for dental patients. Essentially, it is a power washer for your teeth. The Water Flosser uses a powerful jet of water to wash away dental plaque. 

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The Waterpik Water Flosser has been shown to help reduce plaque along the gum line and between teeth and help prevent and reduce gingivitis, often a precursor to periodontal disease.

This means when used daily, the Waterpik Water Flosser is an ideal choice for improving and/or maintaining good oral health especially in people who struggle with dental floss.

Keep in mind that water flossers are not a complete substitute for dental floss. You should treat it as a tool in addition to regular brushing and flossing. If you only use water flossers and don’t floss you can still get cavities in between your teeth.

Just plug the Waterpik into an electrical socket beside your sink, fill the well with lukewarm water. Put the head of the Waterpik nozzle inside your mouth before turning on the device (so water does not spray everywhere). You can adjust the power setting to suit your comfort level. Gently lavage the gums in between your teeth as you go around each and every tooth.

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Here is an extra tip: For an added disinfectant effect, you can dissolve some table salt or put two teaspoons of mouth wash into the warm water to make a diluted mouthwash solution. This will help chemically kill any bacteria in your mouth and also give you a nice minty breath. After you do this, be sure to flush the Waterpik unit with warm water to remove any mouthwash residue.

I recommend the Waterpik units with an electrical cord. I find that the batteries in the handheld or cordless Waterpiks die very quickly after some time.

Tip #6: Floss Every Time You Brush

I have a saying that I tell my patients all the time and it goes: Floss the teeth you want to keep!

Hopefully, you are still motivated to keep your teeth.

In the beginning, you will find that flossing is time consuming. You may think it is a major hassle. But the more you do it, the better and faster you will get. You might even find it therapeutic and enjoyable!

If you do not floss because it causes your gums to bleed and hurt, that just means that you should floss more. With time, the better it will feel and the less it will bleed. Pain and bleeding may be due to gingivitis (gum inflammation), so the more you floss, the healthier the gums will become.

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Make it a resolution to floss every time you brush. Ideally, you should brush after every meal, but if you can manage brushing just twice a day, then flossing twice a day is great. After some time, flossing will become second nature! You will start to notice the difference when your teeth and gums feel healthier and cleaner and you can never go back to not flossing ever again!

Practice Makes Perfect!

Every journey begins with a single step. Better oral health and healthier gums starts with picking up that box of floss. 

If it has been a while since you last visited your dentist, it may be time to arrange a visit. Your dentist will be able to check your gums, teeth and bones and give you more personalized advice on how you can improve your oral health.

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