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How to Floss Properly - The Floss Pick Revolution

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

My Awesome Dental Floss Pick Review

“Flossing totally sucks!” That’s what I said last month, until on a whim when picking up a toothpaste refill at the store I made an impulse buy and got a pack of mint flavoured dental floss picks for $4. Considering that there are 90 in the pack that is a pretty good deal, less than $20 a year and when you consider the long term effects of flossing to prevent oral diseases, it is a good investment.

I have always known that I should do it; in fact I am good friends with my dentist and have always heard about it when the conversation turns to my mouth. “Hardly anyone flosses” and “Flossing is the #1 thing I recommend to most people for better dental health” were commonplace when I had a check-up.

I didn’t floss before because my gums always bled and hurt a lot and it was really painful for my fingers. Since I’ve gotten my picks and I have been flossing every day and now my gums never bleed which is a welcome change and there is no pain for my fingers since I use floss picks. So after the one month test I can highly recommend it.

Oral-B Complete Floss Picks Mint 90 Count
Amazon Price: $3.49 $2.35 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 22, 2013)
These make flossing so easy you'll wonder how you lived without them.

Why Should I Floss?

how to floss
Credit: Pinksherbet via Flickr

Brushing and flossing keep your teeth clean by removing plaque and food debris, keep your mouth free of bacteria that cause dental diseases and bad breath (halitosis) and keep your gums healthy which reduces the chance of running into oral diseases like gingivitis and losing your teeth.

While many of do a good job brushing our teeth every day, flossing sometimes gets forgotten, but it is at least as important as brushing for preventing all of the problems above.

Steps for Flossing

Here are the steps to follow when flossing your teeth. You can floss your teeth before or after brushing, there is some evidence that brushing after flossing may allow more fluoride to your teeth.

  1. If you are using free flowing floss, take an 18 inch length and wrap it around your fingers. You may wish to wrap it around your middle finger, index fingers or both of these together leaving 6-8 inches between them.
  2. You may find that doing your whole mouth like this hurts your fingers. This can be a major reason why people quit. If this is a problem it is recommended that you use a floss pick.
  3. If you are using a floss pick, start here.
  4. Grasp the floss between your thumbs and index fingers so there is 2-3 inches of floss ready for action.
  5. Push the floss up between your teeth and curve the floss around the side of your tooth in a C shape, applying gentle pressure and move the floss up and down the length a few times. The purpose here is to remove plaque. Your gums may hurt and bleed for the first few weeks of flossing; this is normal and if you continue regular flossing this will stop and your gums will be much healthier.
  6. Repeat this for each side of each tooth.
  7. Some teeth may be tighter together and hard to get the floss into. It is even more important to do these teeth as plaque will still form here. Read below for tips on this.

Flossing Get What Brushing Misses

Plaque[2], a film of mucus and bacteria, is constantly forming on our teeth and leads to oral health problems and cavities. Brushing removes most of the plaque from your teeth, however it can’t get at plaque between your teeth and a cavity between the teeth is even worse than normal because it is harder for your dentist to reach for treatment.

In addition to removing plaque, flossing will remove food debris that gets stuck between your teeth. You’ve probably noticed when eating popcorn that the kernels get stuck in your teeth and are very annoying. Well the same thing happens with other foods, but it is not as noticeable as with popcorn because popcorn kernels are much larger and harder than ordinary bits of food.

What Floss to Use

Your first step must be getting your hands on some floss. For this you really have 2 good options. You can go for a prepared dental floss pick, which consists of a bit of floss on a stick in a U shaped indent, or going for standard free flowing.

You can choose from a few different types of floss, the most common being the waxed and unwaxed varieties. It makes no difference which of these types of floss you use and it is all down to your personal preference. Go ahead and give both types a try and see which you like more and use that. You can experiment with flavoured floss and unflavoured as well. Picking your personal favourite is important as you are more likely to floss if you use the type you like.[1]

 

Tips for the Best Flossing

Be Hygienic – Only use floss once. Bacteria can grow on floss after use.

My Gums Bleed When I Floss – It is normal for your gums to bleed when you first start. Flossing will improve gum health and after regular flossing for a few days or weeks you will stop bleeding. This is still a good point to bring up with your dentist and be sure to be hygeinic as you don't want plaque entering your blood.

Flossing with Braces – You should still floss when wearing braces by using a floss threader. Talk with your orthodontist or dentist about it if you are unsure.

My Teeth are Too Tight to Get In Between – If some or all of your teeth are spaced too closely to easily get floss in it can really hurt your fingers and gums. Instead, try using C-shaped floss threaders. You can apply pressure slowly to the C with your mouth to get the floss between your teeth without hurting your fingers. You can also try waxed or extra slippery polytetrafluoroethylene floss.

I Just Can’t Floss Right – If you have trouble using the regular stuff and can’t seem to figure out just how to do it, use a pick or floss holder. You will only need one hand and it is much easier.

Butler Floss Mate Handle - 845R - Pack of 1 - Assorted colors (Blue or Red)
Amazon Price: $7.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 22, 2013)
If you want to use regular floss but like the idea of a pick to hold your floss, try a floss threader for the best of both worlds.

Keep Flossing

At first flossing seems like it is just painful and a lot of extra work, but like most things that are good for you, if you stick with it things will get easier and you will gain amazing benefits. This is a lifelong task that will keep your teeth healthy and help you avoid expensive dental care in the future. You will also be more likely to keep all of your teeth, which is a very good thing.

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Bibliography

  1. American Dental Association "Floss & Other Interdental Cleaners." American Dental Association. 14/10/2013 <Web >
  2. American Dental Association "Plaque." Mouth Healthy. 14/10/2013 <Web >

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