Flossing: What You Need to Know

Though flossing is one of the most important things you can do for your oral health, studies show that only 25 percent of Americans floss regularly. In today’s blog post, we’ve put together a simple guide to teach you how to floss.

Why Flossing Matters
Flossing is one of the most important things you can do for your oral healthcare. By removing debris and plaque from between your teeth, you can prevent tooth decay, tooth loss, and periodontal disease.

Common Myths and Objections to Flossing
Unfortunately, many people have objections to flossing and mistakenly believe that the practice isn’t that important. For instance, some people think that because food doesn’t get caught in their teeth, they don’t need to floss. However, the main purpose of flossing is to remove plaque and bacteria that naturally builds up between your teeth. Plaque can lead to tooth decay, periodontal disease, and gingivitis.

Other people believe that flossing takes too much time. Most dentists recommend that people should floss for three to five minutes per day. If you’re rushed for time in the morning or too tired at night, it’s important to find a way to integrate the habit into your daily routine. Even flossing for a single minute is better than skipping the practice altogether. Some people forget to floss before it becomes a part of their daily routines, so it can be a good idea to leave the floss out on the bathroom counter or next to a toothbrush where it will be easily seen.

Finally, many people don’t floss because they find flossing painful or because they believe their teeth are spaced too closely together. But if flossing is painful or causes bleeding gums, it’s likely that you could suffer from gum disease or gingivitis—the exact oral problems that flossing benefits the most. People who suffer pain during flossing shouldn’t give up. Typically, gum pain and bleeding will cease within one or two weeks of beginning a normal flossing routine. You may also simply need to try a different type of floss in order to slide it easily between your teeth. If any pain or bleeding persists after two weeks, see a dentist for an examination and advice.

Flossing Made Simple
The following steps make flossing a simple and easy process that you can fit into your daily routine.

  • First, take about 18 inches of floss and wind each end around one of your middle fingers.
  • Hold the floss between your thumb and index finger, pulling tightly so that the floss is taut. Slide the floss between your teeth. You can start anywhere in your mouth that feels comfortable, but it’s important to choose one place and work in a general direction so that you don’t forget any of your teeth.
  • Twist the floss so that it curves in a “C” shape around the side of your tooth. While keeping the floss pressed against the side of your tooth, rub it gently up and down to remove debris. Be careful not to pull the floss away too suddenly.
  • Move carefully from tooth to tooth, unraveling a bit more floss as you progress through your mouth. Floss all of your teeth—especially those in the back, as they are especially susceptible to decay—and wash your hands after finishing.

image by Yogma