Unfortunately, your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth. That is why flossing is so important. It helps to dislodge any food particles stuck between your teeth and under your gums. If these food particles aren’t dislodged, they can lead to cavities, bad breath, and gum diseases.
The bottom line?
Flossing is crucial to your overall oral health. Ideally, you should aim to floss after every meal.
“Do that and your mouth will be absolutely immaculate,” says Dr. Rocky, Victoria Dental Group's resident dentist with advanced training in tooth replacement and restoration. “But we know that’s not practical for most people — so we hope our patients floss once daily.”
But remember when it comes to flossing, it’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality.
If you aren’t using proper technique, you aren’t harnessing the full potential of flossing power. How do you know if you are flossing correctly? The next time you reach for the floss, be sure to keep the following tips and tricks in mind.
Opt for a waxed ribbon floss.
Good flossing technique starts out when you are in the hygiene aisle of your local supermarket. You will likely be confronted with a number of different choices:
- Waxed vs. un-waxed?
- Flavoured vs. unflavoured?
- Ribbon floss vs. fine floss?
In general, you will want to opt for a waxed floss, as it tends to be much easier to slide between your teeth, and it is harder to shred. Ribbon floss is also the better option over fine floss, as it covers a larger portion of your teeth and subsequently does a better job cleaning. When it comes time to choosing flavour, that’s up to you — although there is nothing like a bit of mint to leave your mouth extra fresh!
Wind and glide.
Once you have chosen an appropriate floss, you will want to take approximately 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand, keeping roughly 2 inches of taut floss between each finger.
Next, use your index fingers to glide the floss between your teeth, starting in the upper left hand side of your mouth and working your way across to the right hand side.
Once you’ve finished the top, work your way along your lower teeth. Effective flossing will typically take approximately 1 minute.
Always be gentle when flossing. You should gently move the floss between your teeth in a zigzag fashion, being careful not to snap the floss against the teeth. If you are new to flossing, your gums might feel a bit sore afterward and will likely bleed a bit, but you should adjust quickly. Healthy gums that are flossed regularly will not be sore anymore and will not bleed.