“Flossing is one of the major ways you can care for your teeth,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office. “There is no good substitutes for daily flossing,” she adds.
What’s the best floss? “The one you use regularly,” says Dr. Ford with a smile. Whatever you reach for often and regularly is what works for you.
Dental floss is a string-like material that is worked between the teeth to remove plaque. There are many flosses available, each designed for specific tasks. If your teeth have tight contacts, a tape-type floss may be best. Tight contacts also may benefit from a waxed floss, to make insertion and moving it around more comfortable.
If your flossing leaves a bad taste in your mouth, both tape and string flosses come in mint and cinnamon flavors. There is even a woven floss that has a slightly rough surface to scrub off plaque more effectively.
If you have limited dexterity for any reason, there are floss threaders in many shapes and sizes, including ones designed specifically for braces. Floss threaders or aides allow you to floss one-handed, which is convenient if you have balance problems or simply don’t have room in your mouth for your fingers.
Here are 10 steps to flossing your teeth.
1. According to the dental section of About.com, you should floss teeth before you brush.
2. Take about 18 inches of floss and wrap the ends around your middle finger (on each hand) several times.
3. Grasp the floss with the index finger and thumb of each hand.
4. Using a sliding back-and-forth motion, work the floss between two teeth. Do not snap the floss into place, use a sawing motion.
5. Let the floss “hug” the tooth in a C or V shape, bending the floss around the tooth you are working on.
6. Move the floss back and forth over the whole height of the tooth.
7. Move the floss gently below the gum line, where plaque hides.
8. Bend the floss in the other direction, to the adjacent tooth (the one next to the first tooth you worked on.)
9. Once each side of the tooth is clean, carefully remove the floss by lifting it out between the teeth. Then use a new area of floss to clean the next set of teeth. (Steps 3-5).
10. Work in a way that you reach all the teeth. Start at the front, top, and work in a clockwise direction. Use the same pattern every night.
Here are two videos to help you watch step-by-step methods of flossing:
Flossing and brushing your teeth daily may not be how you want to spend your time, but it is a way to avoid the expense and time of repairing teeth you could have kept in good shape with a minimum of effort. Flossing and brushing regularly gives you a clean and happy, sparkling smile!