Dentists recommend that we brush and floss twice daily to achieve the best oral health. But what is flossing, and how do you do it?
Flossing is cleaning between your teeth to remove food particles and plaque using a thin type of thread called dental floss. The dental floss could either be waxed or unwaxed and is normally made of nylon, Teflon, or similar materials.
Types Of Dental Floss
There are different types of available dental floss in the market for you to choose from. Before buying, consider not only your preference but also space between your teeth because some types of floss are thicker than others.
Some of the dental floss types are;
This is a type of floss made of a thin nylon strand and coated with wax and may have a mint or cinnamon flavor. It is the type that comes first to the mind of a lot of people when they think about using floss.
The wax helps keep the strands of the thread together, which prevents it from breaking or fraying when use. It also makes it easier for the floss to slide between your teeth.
One of the biggest downsides of waxed dental floss is that the wax coating makes it thicker, which makes it harder for the thread to get in tight spaces between your teeth. The wax coating is also smooth and slippery, which might make the floss harder to grip as you use it.
Unwaxed dental floss consists of a lot of fine nylon strands twisted together to make a single strand. They have no wax coating coat or flavor on them. The lack of a wax coating makes it thin, which makes it possible for the floss to get into tight spaces between your teeth.
It also makes it easy for you to grip and use. However, unwaxed floss does not have anything holding the strands of the string together, which means that it is prone to fraying, snapping, or breaking during use.
This is a flatter and wider type of strand than the string types, and it comes in either flavored or unflavored and either waxed or unwaxed. Since it is thick, it is hard to use if you have small spaces between the teeth. It is also hard to break, which increases its lifetime.
This floss looks similar to regular string floss on both of its ends but has a thick and fluffy section in the center. The center section consists of nylon or cotton threads with a coat of wax, while the end parts are simple threads with a wax coating.
If you have dental procedures like bridges, braces, and implants, you may find it hard to floss between those structures with normal floss to avoid damaging them. However, those areas need cleaning because they are also a breeding ground for bacteria, and food could also get stuck.
Super floss makes it easier for you to floss between those areas because of its thick and fluffy center part. The thin threaded end parts make it easier for the floss to get to other smaller spaces that have no dental work.
This is a cleaning device that you use to shoot thin streams of water between your teeth or at the gums. The water streams come off with a bit of pressure which makes it easy for them to remove plaque and food buildup.
It is easy to use and does not have any waste. It is also perfect if you have any dental work in the mouth and does not include the risk of you hurting your gums. Since it depends on water and electricity to work, it is harder to use this type of floss outside your home.
Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE)
Manufacturers make this floss using polytetrafluorethylene, the material utilized in high-tech Gore-Tech fabric. It is easy to slide in small spaces between your teeth and between dental works. It also does not shred or break easily.
However, the material used in making this floss could compromise your immune system and hormone levels, and you should consult your dentist before using them.
If you have trouble holding your dental floss as you use it, you can use a floss holder. These are E or Y-shaped tools which have a small section between 2 prong ends for holding the piece of floss.
This is perfect if you have limited dexterity. However, since the floss holder only allows you to use a single piece of small floss, there are risks of you transferring bacteria from one tooth to another since you can’t use a new section for every tooth.
How To Floss
While flossing is important, doing it the wrong way could lead to no results, and it could also hurt your gums. To floss;
Flossing without braces
- Cut off around 18-24 inches of dental floss. Wind the length of the floss around your middle fingers, and leave only around 1 or 2 inches for flossing. That helps you get a good grip of the floss and ensures you have enough to use a new section for each tooth.
- Use your index fingers and thumbs to hold the floss taut to enable it easily get between your teeth.
- Insert the floss between your teeth, and rub it against both teeth between that spaces using up and down movements.
- As you reach the gum, curve your floss at the base of the teeth, forming a C shape to get into the space between your gum and tooth. Ensure not to glide the floss into the gums as that could cause bruising or scratching.
- Repeat that process in all the spaces between your teeth, and use a new section of floss for every section.
Flossing with braces
- Flossing with braces on is harder because you have to take care not to hurt yourself or damage the braces.
- Break off around 18-24 inches of floss. For this, go for waxed floss. Ensure that you floss in front of a mirror to help you ensure that the floss gets to where you want it.
- Thread your floss between the main wire and two teeth, then twist the end parts of the floss around the index fingers to easily move the floss.
- Gently press your floss between the teeth, then, with up and down movements, glide it on the sides of the teeth.
- When you reach the top of the teeth, make a letter ‘n’ with the floss. To achieve that, get the floss up to the gum line on the side of 1 tooth, then glide it down along the side on the other tooth.
- Remove the floss gently and unthread it from the back of the main wire carefully. Do not pop the floss out of your teeth because you could dislodge the wire.
- Repeat the same process between all teeth.
One of the questions a lot of people as is whether you should floss before or after brushing. There is not a best recommended time for you to floss, and you could do it at any time of the day.
However, it would help if you floss before you brush because brushing helps remove all the loose plaque that flossing left behind.
After using dental floss for the first time, your gums may bleed a little because they are tender. Continue flossing as your dentist directed, and the bleeding should go away after a few days. If it does not, see your dentist.
Why You Should Floss
Dentists recommend that you floss at least once daily. There are five surfaces on your tooth, and all of them have the same chances of getting plaque buildup, food particles, and bacteria. Flossing helps you clean 2of those surfaces that are hard to reach using a toothbrush.
It helps remove plaque buildup from the gaps in your teeth which could generate acid-causing cavities. The acid could also irritate your gums and eventually cause gum disease.
Flossing also helps remove food particles left between your teeth that could cause cavities, tooth decay, and toothaches.
If you want to get the best advice on how, when, and why you should floss your teeth, you need to consult with the best team of dental professionals. Imagine Dentals is your number 1 partner in all matters of dental health and advice in Phoenix and Ahwatukee, AZ.
Our employees have the perfect knowledge and skill set needed to ensure your dental health is in good shape. We offer in-office advice, but if you can’t make it, we can do it over the phone or on video calls.
We also have customer care lines that are always open in case you need to make an appointment or complaint. Before we treat you or give any advice, we examine you to determine your overall and oral health.
We also examine your mouth, teeth, jaws, gums, and tongue, which enables us to give you services suited for your specific needs. With dental floss, some of the ones we recommend include;
- Listerine Ultraclean Dental Floss
- The Humble Co. Natural Dental Floss Picks
- Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss
- Dr. Tung’s Smart Floss
- COCOFLOSS Coconut-Oil Infused Woven Dental Floss
- Oral-B Super Floss Threaders