male flossing teeth

A Complete Guide to Flossing Teeth

Do you floss your teeth on a daily basis? The importance of flossing is most likely stressed to you by your dentist or dental hygienist each time you go in for cleanings. Why is flossing so important to your oral health

The Importance of Flossing

You probably know that one purpose of flossing is to remove food particles from between your teeth. But it also helps to scrape tartar and plaque out from between your teeth and along the gum line. Flossing can reach parts of your teeth that brushing can’t. It even strengthens your gums, making them more resilient to plaque, bacteria, and infection. 

Benefits of Flossing:

  • Prevent tooth decay. Removing food and plaque from in between your teeth can help to prevent cavities from forming in areas that are hard to reach with your toothbrush. 

  • Prevent gum disease. Flossing removes food and plaque from along and under the gum line, which helps to prevent gum disease. 
  • Prevent bad breath. Preventing tooth decay and gum disease helps to keep your breath more fresh.
  • Save money. By avoiding cavity fillings and other dental procedures you can save money on your dental care. 

How To Floss Your Teeth

Follow these basic steps to effective flossing:

  1. From your spool of floss, break off a piece about 18 to 24 inches long. 

  2. Wind it around your middle fingers until they are a few inches apart. 

  3. Use your index fingers to pull the floss tight and slide it in between each of your teeth. Make sure the floss rubs against both of the teeth. 

  4. In each space between your teeth, curve the floss, slightly wrapping it around the sides of each tooth so that it is able to reach the space between the tooth and the gums. 

  5. Repeat this process in each space between your teeth, using a clean part of the floss each time. 

Tip: If you have a particularly tight spot between any of your teeth where it’s hard to get the floss between and back out, simply unwrap one end of the floss from your finger and pull it out from the side.

Flossing and Brushing: Which Should You Do First?

In your personal oral care routine, which do you normally do first, the brushing or the flossing? It is actually recommended that you floss your teeth first. The reason is that flossing loosens food and plaque from your teeth, making it easier to brush it away. Also, it is easier to remember to floss if you do it first. You are much less likely to skip brushing than you are to skip flossing, so once you get in the habit of flossing first you won’t forget. 

How Often Should You Floss?

Dentists recommend that you floss at least once a day and brush at least twice a day. Flossing too often may irritate your gums and make them more susceptible to gum disease. 

Different Types of Floss

  • Standard floss. This is your typical floss made of nylon. It comes waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored. 

  • Dental tape. This is a flat strip of floss that is shaped more like a narrow ribbon. It is helpful if you have any larger spaces between your teeth.

  • Super floss. This floss is specially made for flossing with braces, bridges, or other dental work. It has one end that is stiffened (like the end of a shoelace) to make it easier to thread under braces wires, spongy floss to clean around your brackets, and regular floss for getting between your teeth. 

Other Flossing Tools

  • Waterpik. Basically a water flosser, this is a motorized tool that sprays water with force. It can be used to clean out the spaces between your teeth. It is especially useful when you have braces or dental work.
  • Plackers. If you have trouble maneuvering floss or you just need a faster method for flossing on the go, floss picks or plackers are a bit easier to use. These consist of a small piece of floss stretched between the ends of a plastic stick in a U-shape. You simply push the floss between each of your teeth. Rinse it off a few times as you go. 

SmileMakers Recommends Flossing for Better Oral Health

SmileMakers Comprehensive Dentistry provides dental services for patients of all ages from babies with their first tooth through adults. We teach proper oral hygiene practices, including flossing, so that our patients can effectively care for their own teeth between visits. 

Call (334) 277-5498 today to schedule a visit or request an appointment at SmileMakers. We look forward to helping you maintain excellent oral health.