Flossing is all about removing dental plaque that hides away between the gaps in our teeth. Plaque is the bacteria that forms on tooth surfaces between cleaning’s and if not quickly removed causes tooth decay, inflamed gums, gum disease and eventually tooth loss.
How good is your flossing technique?
Only 21% of the UK population floss regularly and sadly research claims that only 5% of us are flossing effectively. So to produce the maximum benefits when flossing you may need to improve on your technique, you will learn how to floss correctly by following the tips below.
How to Floss the right way
Follow the steps below; ensuring not to snap the floss or you may cut or bruise the delicate gum tissue. Make sure you floss between every single tooth. Work to a pattern round the whole of your mouth to make it less likely that you’ll miss out any teeth.
- start with about 18 inches of floss
- wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an about 2 inches to work with
- hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers
- slide the floss gently up and down between your teeth, curving the floss in a C shape around as much of the tooth as you can
- very gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line
- use clean sections of floss for each tooth
- use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the tooth before moving on to the next tooth
- don’t forget the molars in the back of your mouth where most gum disease and tooth decay occurs
If you are still cannot get the hang of effective flossing pop over to Wiki How to see a very instructional animation on the flossing technique.
Types of Floss
There are two types of floss to choose from, Nylon (or multifilament) floss and PTFE (monofilament) floss.
Nylon flosses are made up of multiple fibres and can be either waxed or un-waxed. The multiple fibres can lead to nylon flosses becoming shredded. A trick to reduce shredding is to ease the floss back and forth to get it between the teeth rather than popping it through. Waxed flosses are easier to get between the teeth and so are less prone to shredding than un-waxed flosses.
PTFE flosses are made with a single fibre that is resistant to shredding and slides easily between the teeth.
For those that find flossing too difficult due to having big fingers, painful fingers or hands or poor coordination there are other options:
- floss pick or floss holder; these disposable plastic Y-shaped devices hold a span of floss between two prongs to allow one-handed use.
- dental floss threader; consists of a piece of straight plastic with a loop on one end, which can easily be positioned and looped around a tooth.
- interdental brushes; the preferred solution for many who dislike manual flossing
- power flossers; battery or mains powered flossers that provide extra cleaning power
- water flossers; also known as electric water flossers or oral irrigators, use high velocity jets of water to remove plaque
Brush then floss or Floss then brush?
If you brush your teeth first there will be less plaque to remove when you floss, as some of it will have been removed by brushing. Many dentists also recommend brushing first because it’s the way most people were taught and dentists see no reason to change the order in which we do our flossing.
If you floss first, not all of the plaque you remove when flossing attaches to the floss but remains in your mouth. Therefore, if you brush after flossing this plaque also gets removed. Another advantage of flossing before brushing is that the fluoride in toothpaste can penetrate between your teeth better once as the plaque has already been removed.
I personally floss first, but that’s just the way I have always done it. The most important thing is to floss once a day; there is no hard evidence that proves that one method is better than the other.