Flossing your teeth is a great way to set yourself up for oral health success. While many know they should be flossing, few know the right way to do it. Let’s unpack how to floss, the benefits of flossing, and how to choose the best floss for you and your teeth.
How to Floss the Right Way
For those wondering how to floss, the best place to start is with the recommendation of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA). ADHA explains the proper flossing technique in four easy steps:
- Wind: Start by winding 18 inches of floss around either your middle finger or your index finger (of the hand you prefer) and a small amount onto the middle or index finger of the other hand. Then, hold the floss between your thumbs and index fingers, leaving 1-2 inches in between. The thumbs will help move the floss between your upper teeth.
- Guide: Keep a 1-2 inch length of floss stretched between your fingers. Then use your index fingers to move the floss between your lower teeth, one at a time.
- Glide: Use a zig-zag motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Sometimes the floss will snap between teeth — try not to let it. Curve the floss around the side of the tooth to make a C shape as you wrap it around the tooth.
- Slide: Next, slide the floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line — don’t forget the back! Unroll a fresh section of floss from your fingers as you move from one tooth to the next.
Flossing should be done twice a day along with your brushing routine. As for whether you should floss before or after you brush your teeth, it’s best to floss beforehand so your toothbrush can brush away any food or plaque released by the floss.
Why Flossing Is Important
Flossing is a great way to promote healthy, happy gums. Since the floss often reaches places where your toothbrush can’t, brushing your teeth alone can miss some spots where your gums need love. Flossing can also help reduce bleeding gums. However, make sure not to floss too hard or you can cut into the sensitive skin around your teeth.
Regular use of dental floss helps remove and prevent plaque buildup, which can ultimately lead to cavities. Flossing can also help your mouth feel fresh and clean, especially because it can help remove any food particles your toothbrush might have missed.
Types of Floss
Wondering what type of floss you should use? There are many options to choose from, including: waxed, unwaxed, spongy floss, dental tape and disposable flossers.
- Dental tape is great for people with large gaps between their teeth.
- Waxed floss is great for people with not a lot of space between their teeth.
- Disposable flossers are great for people who want less mess or a quicker experience.
- A spongy floss is a good option for those with braces or bridges.
Regardless of the type, flossing your teeth helps improve your oral health — and may even help impress your dentist during your next dental visit!