Flossing Your Teeth, Step by Step

Cosmetic_DentistThe “floss and a promise” method of flossing—in which you floss just your front teeth and tell yourself you will do a better job tomorrow—isn’t a good idea. In fact, it can be bad for your health.

“Flossing doesn’t look or feel important right away,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix cosmetic dentistry office. “Many people skip it or do it half-heartedly, and that’s a real danger, because plaque causes gum disease,” she continues.

The website WebMD reports, “Gum disease can ruin the youthful aesthetics of your smile by eating away at gums and teeth. It also attacks the bones that support your teeth and the lower third of your face. People who preserve the height of that bone by flossing look better as they age.”

What’s the best way to get the flossing done?

According to the dental section of About.com, you should floss teeth before you brush. By getting rid of the debris, brushing does a better job of cleaning.

1. Take about 18 inches of floss and wrap the ends around your middle finger (on each hand) several times.

2.. Grasp the floss with the index finger and thumb of each hand.

3. Using a sliding back-and-forth motion, work the floss between two teeth. Do not snap the floss into place, use a gentle, sawing motion.

4. Let the floss “hug” the tooth in a C or V shape, bending the floss around the tooth you are working on.

5. Move the floss back and forth over the whole height of the tooth.

6. Move the floss gently below the gum line, where plaque hides.

7. 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 from between the teeth.

Then use a new area of floss to clean the next set of teeth. (Repeating steps 3-5).

If you prefer, you can change the floss you are holding often.

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.

You can watch a simple step-by-step demonstration 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!

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