National Dental Hygiene Month: Floss – Tips to Properly Floss Teeth

October 11, 2017

Today we are focusing on how to properly floss teeth, one of the daily 4 habits recommended for optimal oral health. Did you know October is National Dental Hygiene Month? We aren’t going to tell you to celebrate by flossing, but rather to think about the dental health big four: Brush, Floss, Rinse and Chew!

Why Floss Teeth?

While brushing your teeth twice a day removes plaque on the surface of your teeth, flossing is meant to remove food particles and plaque between your teeth and under the gum line. Excessive plaque leads to periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Periodontal disease is characterized by pockets in the gums that are red, swollen and bleed easily. Bacteria creates these pockets and can lead to tooth loss but if you floss teeth daily, it can prevent this.

Are You Flossing Correctly?

There are two main types of floss: nylon and filament. Nylon floss comes un-waxed, or waxed which offers flavored varieties. Filament floss tends to be more expensive, but it slides easily between teeth and doesn’t shred like nylon can. Both floss types are equally effective at removing plaque and food from between teeth.

To floss correctly, wrap about an 18” strand of dental floss around your index fingers, leaving about 1-2” of tight floss between them. Slide the floss up between the teeth using a back and forth motion. Create a “C” shape that scrapes the side of the tooth. Gently slide the floss up and curve it around the gum line.

Be careful to not jam the floss between the teeth or force it further than it naturally slides as you can bruise or even cut your gums. Adjust the floss on your fingers to create a clean 1-2” section of floss and repeat.

Floss teeth at least once every 24 hours for best results.


Brush or Floss First?

As far as what is more effective in the order of brushing or flossing, the answer is neither. Whether you brush your teeth or floss them first doesn’t have an effect on how well plaque removal goes. As long as you are brushing for a full two minutes and cleaning around the gum line and between each tooth, you are doing an effective job of daily oral care.

Your regularly scheduled dental visit will remove any stubborn plaque and clear the areas you didn’t or weren’t able to reach.

Whether adult or child, establishing and maintaining healthy oral habits including a time to regularly floss teeth is important. Seeing a dental health practitioner twice a year is part of that routine as well. Find your next dentist at Perfect Teeth today!