Flossing Tips: How to Keep Your Teeth Clean

By John Meola on September 05, 2018

Female dental patient flossing her teethIt is no secret that proper brushing and flossing is essential for optimal oral health. While many Americans brush every day, fewer place the same importance on flossing. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 30 percent of the United States population flosses daily, and about 32 percent report that they never floss their teeth.

That is why we offer restorative and cosmetic dentistry treatments to improve patients’ smiles at our Boston, MA practice. However, preventative care is the best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy for years to come.

Here, our team offers a few important flossing tips, including which techniques to use, how often to floss, and which type of floss to purchase.

The Importance of Flossing

Brushing effectively cleans the tops and sides of your teeth. But what about the areas in between? Referred to as interproximal areas, the front and back surfaces of the teeth must be cleaned as well.

You have probably heard the expression, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep”. Think of it this way: A tooth has four sides. If you limit your oral hygiene routine to brushing alone, you are really only cleaning half of your teeth. When you combine brushing and flossing, you give yourself the best chance for optimal oral health.

What Type of Floss Should I Use?

If you have ever perused the oral health aisle at your local pharmacy or grocery store, you know how many types and brands of dental floss exist. It can be overwhelming. How can you know which one is right for you?

First, it is important to understand that flossing in some way is exponentially better than not flossing at all. That being said, there are some types that may be better suited for you, depending on your dental needs. As a general rule, unwaxed floss is better than waxed floss, as individual filaments clean the teeth more thoroughly than filaments that are bound together.

We recommend trying several different kinds of floss until you find one that works for you. However, we strongly suggest avoiding ultra-thin floss, as it can actually damage the gum tissue.

How to Floss Properly

Start with 18 inches of floss. Wind the ends around your two middle fingers. Next, use your index fingers and thumbs to carefully guide the floss between two of your teeth.

Wrapping the floss around one tooth in a “C” shape, rub the floss up and down the length of the tooth, going as deep into the gum line as you can without being uncomfortable. Seven to ten strokes should suffice. Now, wrap the floss around the adjacent tooth and repeat.

What if Dexterity Is an Issue?

Patients with arthritis or other dexterity issues may have difficulty flossing properly. Fortunately, there are several dental tools on the market that can help. Ask your dentist about floss handles, interproximal brushes, or dental picks.

Flossing around Bridges

Because dental bridges are crafted from a solid block of ceramic or other dental material, cleaning around them can be challenging. Floss threaders can be utilized to help you clean underneath these restorations. In addition, you can also use interproximal brushes or dental picks.

Flossing Dental Implants

If you have one or more dental implants, ask your dentist or hygienist to demonstrate proper flossing techniques. Typically, we recommend that patients wrap the floss all the way around the implant post, then clean it in a shoe-shine motion.

Contact Dental Associates of New England

If you would like to learn more oral hygiene tips and tricks, reach out to a team member at our practice. Contact us online anytime or give us a call at one of our office locations.

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