Everything You Never Knew About Flossing: The Why, with What & How?

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Why Do I Need To Floss?

Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing germs that accumulates on teeth, including places where toothbrushes can’t reach. We ant to remove this plaque buildup within 24 hours.  The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss your teeth carefully every day. The toothbrush cleans the tops and sides of your teeth. Dental floss cleans in between them. 

How Often Should I Floss?

Yes, you should floss at least once per day for two to three minutes. Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. Floss is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important that the toothbrush.

Which type of floss should I use?

Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. They all clean and remove plaque about the same. 

• Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. 

• Unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean.

• Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed floss.

• Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridgework. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. 

How should I floss?

There are two flossing methods: the spool method and the loop method. 

The spool method is suited for those with manual dexterity. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Don’t pull it down hard against your gums or you will hurt them. Don’t rub it side to side as if you’re shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times forming a “C” shape around the tooth being sure to go below the gum line.

The loop method is suited for children or adults with less nimble hands, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take and 18-inch piece of floss and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to glide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gumline for a “” on the side of the tooth.

Is it safe to use toothpicks?

In a pinch, toothpicks are usually effective at removing food between teeth, but for daily cleaning of plaque between teeth, floss is recommended. 

How to Floss

A diagram of how to floss

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.