Here's How to Floss Properly

Here's How to Floss Properly

While going to the dentist twice a year for professional cleanings is a must-do, it’s not enough to keep your mouth healthy and happy. For that, you need a good at-home dental hygiene regimen.

At Riverdale Dental Arts, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff stress the importance of dental health, and that includes at-home brushing and flossing. It’s important, though, that you floss properly to reap the rewards, so the team’s put this guide together to show you how it’s done.

Dental health — a window to your overall health

Why is dental health important? Other than keeping your teeth and gums healthy and strong, it helps promote better overall health.

As with the rest of your body, your mouth is home to loads of bacteria; most of them are harmless, but some aren’t quite so nice. And since your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, failing to remove the harmful bacteria can cause disease.

The process starts with oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease, then travels to other areas of your body, potentially leading to:

Oral health may be only a contributing factor to greater disease, but it’s a factor that needs to be taken seriously.

The importance of brushing and flossing

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste to get at plaque and food debris clinging to the surface of the teeth.

Unfortunately, though, no matter how much you brush, you can’t reach between the teeth. That’s why it’s important you floss at least once a day to remove the plaque or food debris that collects there. Failure to do so may lead to cavities and even gum disease. 

Untreated plaque eventually hardens into tartar, which collects along and under your gum line and can also lead to gum disease. This can only be removed with a professional cleaning.

How to floss properly

According to the ADA, the most important thing to remember about flossing isn’t what time you should do it, but that you do it in the first place and do it well.

Flossing your teeth should never be painful. Don’t “snap” the floss down between your teeth, as you may cut the gum tissue, leading to bleeding, swelling, and inflammation. On the other hand, don’t be too gentle, or you might not remove all the debris. Proper technique is about finding the balance between the extremes.

Always use tools designed to clean between your teeth — never pins or scissors or your fingernails. Dental picks, string or filament floss, water flossers, and tiny interdental brushes are all good options. If you have problems getting to hard-to-reach places, a dental pick might be a good choice. If you have arthritic hands, braces, or permanent bridges, a water flosser might work better. Find what works for you and stick with it.

Proper flossing technique should follow this sequence:

Break off a piece of floss that’s 18-24 inches (30-45 cm) long and wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand. The middle finger on the other hand takes up the floss after it is used.

Hold the floss between both thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle back-and-forth motion to move the floss gently between your teeth.

When the floss makes contact with the gum line, curve it around your tooth on one side, moving it up and down gently. Repeat the process on the tooth on the other side. Pull the floss out using the same gentle back-and-forth motion you used to get it in. 

Don’t forget to clean behind the back side of the last teeth on your upper and lower arches.

Always use a clean piece of floss for each tooth. Not only is a dirty piece less effective than a clean piece, but it can also reintroduce unwanted bacteria into your mouth.

Want more tips? Need a dental cleaning? Riverdale Dental Arts has you covered. Call the office at 845-479-6927, or book an appointment online with us today.

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