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How to Floss Your Way to Healthier Teeth and Gums

You’re not alone if you don’t floss regularly. Only 16% of surveyed Americans say they always floss daily, while 20% only floss when something is stuck between their teeth. Another 8% of those surveyed never floss.

It’s easy to understand why so many people avoid flossing. Using an improper technique or the wrong tools can make the process cumbersome and painful. 

And, the longer you wait between sessions, the more difficult it is to remove plaque. The most common reason for not flossing is that it’s too time-consuming. 

If you’re not flossing regularly, a dental professional can help you learn the proper technique and establish a routine. In Jasper, Texas, Preventive dentistry specialist Eric Koch, DDS, of Advanced Dental Care of East Texas, provides expert dental services, including regular dental exams that involve a comprehensive dental cleaning and professional flossing. Dr. Koch also reviews your brushing and flossing techniques to ensure you’re getting the most from your efforts.

Don’t overlook this important aspect of oral hygiene. Find out more about proper flossing and the benefits it can provide. 

Why flossing matters

When done properly on a daily schedule, flossing is one of the easiest ways to help your teeth and gums remain healthy. Proper flossing dislodges food debris trapped between your teeth and along your gumline. 

If you avoid flossing, the debris can accumulate and form plaque, a sticky film full of bacteria. Over time, the bacteria release an acidic substance that deteriorates the enamel of your teeth, causing cavities. 

Left in place, plaque can harden into tartar along your gum line and lead to gingivitis and gum disease. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, affects the supportive tissues and bones that surround your teeth. Untreated gum disease can cause permanent tooth loss and affect how your mouth functions when you speak and eat. 

When to floss

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends an oral hygiene routine that includes brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. You can get benefits from flossing no matter when you do it. 

Some people prefer to floss in the morning; others make it part of their bedtime routine. The ADA recommends flossing at a time when it’s most convenient and comfortable, so you’ll continue to follow through on this important routine. 

If you combine flossing and brushing in the same session, you can either floss or brush first, says the ADA. Many people prefer flossing first, so the loosened particles can be easily removed during brushing. 

How to floss

The best way to learn proper flossing is from one of our dental professionals who can demonstrate it during your dental exam. Here is the technique that the ADA recommends:

  1.  Break off about 1½ feet of dental floss. Wind the floss around your middle finger on each hand, leaving an inch of floss pulled tightly between them. 

  2.  Gently slide the floss gently up and down between your teeth as you hold the floss tautly between your index fingers and thumbs.

  3.  Use gentle pressure to bend the floss into a C shape around the bottom of each tooth, working beneath the gum line without snapping the floss against your gums.

  4.  Use the same back and forth movement to slide the floss up and away from each tooth. 

  5.  Repeat the entire process for every tooth, including the last section of your back teeth, where they touch your gumline. 

  6.  As you finish with each tooth, unwind the floss to reveal clean sections, using the opposite finger to wrap the used sections of floss.

Using proper tools

Getting the benefits of proper flossing requires proper flossing tools. Most people use dental tape, waxed floss, or floss threaders. Disposable floss picks work well for cleaning hard-to-reach teeth.

You can also achieve the benefits of flossing with an electric flosser or water flosser. Both devices can make it easier to reach between orthodontic brackets and wires.

Never use household tools like toothpicks, matchbook covers, cutlery, or safety pins to dig out food stuck between your teeth. These and other tools are less efficient than traditional dental floss and can even harm your teeth and gums by applying too much pressure or causing cuts along your gumline. 

Find out more about establishing a regular flossing routine to protect your teeth and gums. Schedule an appointment online or call Advanced Dental Care of East Texas to arrange a consultation.

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