How to Floss Correctly

To avoid painful dental cleanings, floss once a day. Using dental floss properly, working it between your teeth, takes just a minute out of your day. Meanwhile, it helps prevent periodontal disease.

Still, with so many benefits, only about 40 percent of Americans floss daily, according to a 2014 survey. So if you’re one of the 60 percent who do not floss once a day, then the way to floss correctly is to start. Worry about the details later; get in the habit of flossing once a day, every day.

What Is Floss Exactly?

Dental floss is made from nylon fibers or plastic filaments twisted into a single strand. It’s inexpensive and sold in most grocery stores and pharmacies. Floss comes in several varieties: waxed or unwaxed, flavored or plain.

You can use whatever brand and style you want. You also can find other products that do the same thing as dental floss, such as pics. Use them if you prefer. The most important thing about dental floss is that you use it. Your dental hygienist uses it during dental cleanings — that’s how effective it is.

What Flossing Does

After brushing, bacteria remain on a third of the surface of your teeth, regardless how hard you brush. Only dental cleanings and flossing can remove the bacteria. In fact, flossing does about 40 percent of the work needed to remove sticky bacteria from your teeth. The other benefits of daily flossing include:

  • Clearing away food caught between your teeth
  • Removing some of the plaque trapped between your teeth
  • Preventing gingivitis, tooth decay and gum disease
  • Keeping your teeth cavity-free between dental cleanings

How to Floss the Proper Way

It doesn’t matter when you floss, as long as you floss once every day. It doesn’t matter if you floss before or after brushing, as long as you floss. Got it? Here’s how to floss correctly:

  1. Pull out about 18 inches of floss and clip it off. Wrap the floss around your middle fingers of either hand.
  2. Use your thumbs to pull a section of floss tight. For one tooth at a time, guide the floss into the space between that tooth and the one beside it. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you floss between each of your teeth.
  3. Gently work the floss back and forth and up and down in the space, wrapping the floss around the tooth as much as possible.
  4. At the gum line, work the floss back and forth in between the gum and the tooth. You want to rub each tooth on all sides, and it’s especially important to rub gently around the gum line.
  5. As you proceed, wrap the dirty floss around one finger, while unwinding clean floss from the other. Remember to floss behind your last molar. When you’re finished, throw the floss away.

Dental cleanings may be painful, but flossing shouldn’t cause pain. If you press too hard, you could damage your gums. But if you don’t press hard enough, it won’t be effective. If you’re just starting, it may be uncomfortable, but keep at it and the pain will subside. If it doesn’t, be sure to contact your Asheville dentist.