Are you flossing? It’s the question you’re definitely going to be asked by your dental hygienist at your next regular checkup and cleaning. While most people have down the two times a day brushing routine, flossing can often take a back seat.
However, flossing is an important step in maintaining a healthy mouth (the American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day) as it cleans the hard to reach areas between your teeth, dislodging any food that might be stuck.
Because of the importance of flossing, we’re here to offer some helpful tips to make the task easier to plug back into your routine.
How to Floss Properly
In case you haven’t had a recent demo on the proper way to floss, we’ll give a brief overview on the proper technique.
First, break off about a 24” piece of floss from your preferred flossing brand. There are a number of options from braided to waxed that can help do the job. Second, wind the extra floss around your index finger and thumb, leaving about 1-2 inches of floss available. Third, move the floss between your teeth gently and glide it up and down the sides of both teeth, making a C curve as you reach the gum to clean the areas between the gum and tooth. Be gentle here to avoid bruising the gums. Repeat the steps between each set of teeth, making sure to get a clean section of floss as your move through your mouth.
As an added note, we recommend that your floss before your brush as the flossing should help dislodge food between the teeth that you can then clean away with your brushing.
Tips and Tricks
Find the flossing product that works best for you
– The number of flossing products that are available now far exceed those of days past. This is a great thing, because it offers those who really don’t like the standard wax floss lots of other options for getting clean and healthy teeth. Search the dental aisle and try out a number of products to find the one that helps you stay regular in your routine. Below are just a few options to try
Traditional Waxed Floss – this is the typical offering, and offers floss with a thin layer of wax that coats it on the outside. The wax can help make it easier to get the floss between your teeth so if you have really tiny spaces this could be a good option for you.
Non-waxed floss – this type of floss is the same as above but is just missing the wax coating. The lack of wax might make the floss a bit thinner, but the absence of the wax acting as a lubricant might make it a little more difficult to thread between your teeth
Disposable Tooth picks – these have grown in popularity and can be a great option, whether you’re on the go or just need help getting those tough to reach back teeth. These come in large packs at most grocery stores and are great for having on hand at all times. Throw a few in your backpack or purse in case you find yourself away from the house and in need of a quick floss.
Floss Threaders – these handy tools are especially great for individuals with braces or permanent retainers. You can take your floss and place it inside the threader and then use the threader to guide the floss where you need it to go.
Electric or Water Flossers – these handy tools can be great for those who really can’t get into the regular routing of flossing, they use a combination of pressure and water to clean away plaque and stuck food from the hard to reach areas between your teeth. A great option to consider is the Waterpik. While these are a great option you should know that they might not clean the entire area, they can be a little more expensive and they might make more of a mess during your daily routine.
Don’t stress over minor gum soreness
– when you first start a new flossing routine it’s not uncommon for the gums to be a little sore or possibly for them to even bleed slightly. The important thing here is not to become distressed or stop, but instead to keep going knowing that over time your mouth will get used to your new routine. You can always rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help ease the soreness. However, if your still experiencing gum soreness after a few weeks of your new routine we recommend that you make an appointment to see your dentist to see if there is an underlying issue that needs to be treated.
Reward Yourself After You’re Done
– just as individuals can form good habits, it’s also possible for bad habits to form. Help get yourself excited about flossing (helping instill a good habit for your long-term oral health) by rewarding yourself after it’s completed. If you have a favorite TV show wait to watch it until after you’ve completed your flossing or mark off the number of days in a row you floss on your calendar and after 30 consecutive days allow yourself a special treat.
Set a Reminder
– If flossing hasn’t been part of your regular routine it can be hard to remember to do it. Set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget, or time it up with another regular daily routine like during your shower or right before you brush.
As always our team of dentists and hygienists are here to help support you and encourage you in your quest for a healthy mouth. If you’re struggling with flossing or looking for more instruction on proper technique be sure to bring it up at your next appointment.