Do You Floss Properly?
Posted by: Jodie Blades Diploma Level 3 in Dental Nursing
Medically reviewed by: Dr Shan Lam BDS (Bris)
Why Do I Need To Floss?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is key to preventing the need for more serious dental treatment. Your oral health can also link to other general health issues that could be prevented simply by taking better care of your teeth.
Apart from the obvious benefit of having a cleaner brighter smile, there are a number of other benefits to including flossing into your regular oral hygiene regime.
On average only 31% of Brits say that they floss their teeth daily. Despite NHS guidelines suggesting that everyone from the age of 12 should include it in their daily oral hygiene regime. For some, it is seen as an additional extra they simply don’t have time for, while others don’t know how to do it properly.
Common Flossing Mistakes
- Irritating the gums – Many people admit to being put off because it irritates their gums. However, the aim of flossing is to remove the plaque from the sides of your teeth and you should not put any real force on the gums. Gently moving the floss around the teeth in the opposite direction to the gum line will ensure you do not irritate your gums.
- Flossing at the wrong time – The best time to floss is at night, before you go to bed. It should also be done before you brush you teeth, as this will help to clean away any of the excess plaque you have dislodged that may still be around your teeth. When we sleep we produce less saliva, which acts as a protection from bacteria. By flossing and brushing at night you help to prevent your teeth being damaged by bacteria while you sleep.
- Using the wrong type of floss – If you struggle with flossing you may be using the wrong type of floss. Find out which type is suited to you, consider the spacing between your teeth and make sure you are using the right type of floss for your smile.
How To Floss Properly
1. Break off around 45cm of dental floss and wind most of it around your index or middle fingers on each hand (whichever is most comfortable).
2. Hold the it tightly with your thumbs and fingers leaving 2-3cm of taut floss between them.
3. Start on your top set of teeth and work from left to right. Place the dental floss in between two teeth. Gently glide it up and down, rubbing it against both sides of each tooth. Do not glide the floss into your gums.
4. As the floss reaches your gums, curve the floss at the base of the tooth into a C shape. This allows you to enter the space between your gums and your tooth. Then gently slide the floss against the tooth, away from the gum line.
5. Repeat the steps between all of your teeth, not forgetting the back of your last tooth. Use a new, clean section of the floss for each tooth.
Make Flossing Easier
Now that you know how to floss properly, including it in your daily oral hygiene regime should be a less daunting prospect. There are also a number of useful tools that you can use to make your flossing regime even easier.
- Water Flossers – use water and pressure to remove plaque and food from in between teeth. This device can be extremely useful if you have trouble using regular floss or if you have braces to clean between the brackets and wires.
- Inter dental brushes – are great little tools to help clean between your teeth. Make sure to use the right size brushes for the gaps between your teeth. Seek advise from your Dentist or Hygienist if you have trouble using an inter dental brush.
- Disposable floss picks – are easy to maneuver and can help you floss hard-to-reach teeth in the back of your mouth. They are especially useful for people who struggle to fit their fingers in and around your mouth while flossing.
At Holland Park Dental Centre we would always advise that you visit a Dentist or Dental Hygienist for a proper demonstration on how to floss. This will remove any risk of incorrect flossing as well as allow them to check for any issues that may have been caused by flossing mistakes in the passed.