Everything You Need to Know About Flossing


Flossing: It takes time, but it must be done. At least, it must be done if you want to keep all of your teeth, or so many dentists tell their patients.

Sadly, even though flossing is one of the primary ways to remove bacteria and plaque from teeth and the gumline, most people view brushing their teeth as more important, or at least important enough that they are free to ignore the need for flossing as well.

Why Do You Need to Floss?

You should floss your teeth at least once every day, preferably at night after you are done eating and drinking for the day. The main reason flossing is essential is because built-up food and plaque is not always reachable by brush, especially if it is stuck in between teeth.

Many cavities start in that exact location because just brushing the sides and tops of your teeth will not dislodge the bacteria. Acid will eat away at the enamel and decay will set in.

Use the Correct Technique

Maybe you dread flossing because you find it uncomfortable. In this case, maybe you are not using the proper technique. You should not pull the floss down between your teeth hard enough to lacerate your gums.

Instead, floss should be gently seesawed back and forth until it reaches your gums, then gently wiggled back out again. This is especially important if you have tight-fitting teeth with little space to maneuver.

Once the floss has reached your gums, you should also curve the string around the base of each tooth, making sure to reach beneath the gum line on both sides. Just pushing the floss down and pulling it out is not effective; you must consciously clean out each angle and area of your teeth.

Use the Right Equipment

Just as there are varying types of toothbrushes, there are different types of floss as well. Nylon floss, sometimes referred to as multifilament floss, is made of many different strands. You can purchase the product with a wax coating or without.

This might not be the right type if you have teeth that are really close together, since the strands might pull apart and catch on your teeth while you are flossing. Instead, try using monofilament floss, which is not made of multiple strands. It may provide you with a smoother, easier flossing experience.

Common Flossing Mistakes

Do not abuse your gums during this process. If your gums bleed slightly at first, they may have to adjust to the procedure. Or, you may have gum disease, since gum sensitivity and bleeding is a central sign. Talk to your dentist if your gums continue to bleed — don’t simply continue flossing if it is painful.

Don’t forget to floss around and in between teeth in the back of your mouth. Cavities are common in molars because they are usually neglected when it comes time to floss. Learn how to orient your hands and mouth so you can reach the spaces way in back, and make sure your entire set of teeth is cleaned each day.

Contact Oak Hills Dentistry for more information on the benefits of proper flossing, and an in-person consultation and instructional session on how to care for your teeth effectively.