Everyone is aware that they should be brushing their teeth twice daily and flossing teeth daily too. Despite this knowledge, gum disease caused by bacteria building up in the mouth affects up to 75% of American adults, so something is not working correctly. Many people have a problem with the specific techniques required to floss appropriately. So we asked our hygienist to explain.
Why is flossing essential?
Brushing teeth is a very effective way of removing bacteria and plaque from the front and the back of teeth, but it is challenging to remove this from the sides of the teeth using a brush as the gaps between the teeth are so small. As floss is a thin thread, it can quickly get into the spaces which cannot be reached by a toothbrush and complete the job of cleaning teeth properly.
What are the steps to ensure you are flossing your teeth correctly?
- Cut off a section of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. The floss should be around 18 inches long.
- Use your thumbs and forefingers to grip the floss in small sections and pull it taut so you can insert it into the spaces between your teeth.
- Use your fingers to guide the floss and move it slowly across the teeth and up towards the gums. Move your floss in a circular motion.
- Once finished with the first tooth, wind a new section of the floss and used this to clean the next tooth.
- Keep moving around the mouth, using a new part of the floss for every tooth. Working in a regular pattern means you are less likely to miss any teeth as you go.
Problems with Flossing
Some people find flossing a difficult technique to master. Over time and with regular practice, it should become more comfortable. Still, for those struggling, a dentist or dental hygienist will be happy to help with a demonstration and explanation of how to floss correctly. Many people also find that when they start to floss regularly, they experience some bleeding from their gums. It is perfectly normal and should settle down within a few days once you remove the plaque from the teeth. If bleeding carries on for a more extended period, then speak with your hygienist who will check both your flossing technique and that there is nothing more serious going on with your teeth and gums.