How to Floss Correctly

We all know how important it is to brush our teeth twice a day, but we don’t always floss as often as we should. While teeth brushing is important to your dental health, flossing is just as important to keeping oral bacteria at bay. Brushing only removes the bacteria and leftover food particles that are easy to reach and remove, but what about the stuff that gets between your teeth? Even the best toothbrush on the market can’t reach those tiny crevices.

Over time, plaque builds up between teeth. Flossing can remove the plaque that the toothbrush can’t reach. It’s important to get rid of plaque, because if left untouched, it will erode tooth enamel and even cause gum disease. Flossing is a simple, painless way to prevent painful and complex dental problems.

Here’s how to floss correctly and make sure your smile stays healthy:

1. Wrap a length of floss about eighteen inches long around your middle fingers. You’ll use your thumbs and forefingers to actually move the floss. Wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the used-up floss toward the finger with less on it and use a fresh length each time.

2. Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle sawing motion back and forth all the way from the top of the teeth down to where they meet your gums.

3. Make a “U” shape around the side of one tooth, then gently slide up and down the tooth. Repeat this several times, making sure to get around the gumline too.

4. Don’t be alarmed if you see a little blood coming from the gums. This is due to inflammation caused by the bacteria living there. If you floss every day, you’ll see an improvement in one to two weeks.

You’ve probably seen floss picks available now, which are “Y”-shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the arms of the Y. Although this can help people who are new to flossing and is certainly better than not flossing at all, we still recommend the “old fashioned” way of using a long strand of floss. This is because the picks don’t allow you to make that “U” shape around the tooth. 

We also recommend that you floss right after brushing, because there will already be less plaque on the teeth to get stuck to the floss. If you have extra space between teeth or if your teeth are aligned very close together, it’s even more important to make sure you visit Ridgetop Dental to make sure your smile is healthy. Call 703.520.7410 or schedule an appointment online today!

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