Do You Floss Like A Boss?

Flossing is one of the most difficult things to get people to do but it is one of the more effective ways at preventing disease. In 2013, The American Dental Association (ADA) reported that 52% of men and 45% of women between the ages of 35-44 were diagnosed with gingivitis (gum disease). Gum disease begins at the gum line and between teeth so flossing daily is an important part of your oral health care routine to aid in prevention.

Flossing 101

The (ADA) recommends that you floss at least once a day to help remove plaque from areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can not reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar, potentially causing gum disease and cavities.

When should you floss? There has been questions as to whether flossing in the morning or flossing at night is best. The truth is, the most important thing about flossing is to do it. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care.

Oh, and don’t forget! Children need to floss too! You should be flossing your child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two teeth that touch one another. Because flossing demands more manual dexterity than very young children have, children are not usually able to floss well by themselves until they are age 10 or 11.

The Four Key Elements to Flawless Flossing

To truly reap the benefits of flossing, you need to use proper flossing technique. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association explains these key elements in four simple steps:

  1. Wind: Wind 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers leaving a one-two inch length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.
  2. Guide: Keep a one-two inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.
  3. Glide: Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. DO NOT SNAP FLOSS BETWEEN YOUR TEETH. Contour floss around the side of the tooth.
  4. Slide: Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.

Flosser Flossing: If you use a hand-held flosser, the flossing technique is similar. Hold the flosser handle firmly and point the flossing tip at an angle facing the area you want to floss first (either the top teeth or the bottom teeth). Guide the floss gently between two teeth and be sure to avoid snapping or popping the floss. Use the same zigzag motion that you would use with standard floss. Bend the floss around each tooth and slide it under the gum line and along each tooth surface.

Keep in mind that flossing should not be painful. If you floss too hard, you could damage the tissue between your teeth. If you’re too gentle, you might not be getting the food and debris out of those stubborn areas between the teeth.

It is normal to feel some discomfort when you first start flossing, but don’t give up! With daily brushing and flossing, that discomfort should ease within a week or two. If your pain persists, talk to your dentist.

What Type of Floss Should You Use?

There are many different types and brands of floss available at local retailers, so which is best? Talk to your dentist about what types of oral care products will be most effective for you. Look for products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.


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