Flossing is one of the best things that you can do for both your oral health and your general health. This twice-daily practice is essential for removing trapped food and other debris that cannot be eliminated with brushing alone. When done regularly and properly, it is an excellent way to prevent cavities and gum disease, and to avoid dental infections that might ultimately become systemic. Flossing is also great for stimulating the gums, inciting better blood flow in the soft tissues, and ensuring fresh-smelling breath. Here are four tips for ensuring maximum efficiency when you floss.
1. Choose Your Tool Wisely
If you prefer using standard string floss, be sure to pull off a sufficient length. It’s generally best to have about 18 inches of floss in hand so that you have a good grip on both ends, and plenty of string for cleaning in-between all your teeth. As you remove plaque and other matter, you’ll want to use a clean area of the floss for each section of the mouth. This way, you won’t be reintroducing bacteria at the gum line as you move from place to place.
Floss swords or floss picks are also effective for eliminating trapped food particles and other matter. Unfortunately, however, these tools offer less than an inch of viable floss material and thus, there’s always the risk of transferring bacteria from one area to another. To prevent this, try rinsing your floss sword clean each time you complete an individual area. You can also use an antibacterial flossing oil, such as peppermint or spearmint oil that’s been tempered with a quality carrier oil. Flossing oils increase the overall effectiveness of this important hygiene practice by eliminating more harmful organisms and freshening the breath. Keep in mind that there are many different types of flossing tools out there. If standard dental floss or floss picks aren’t right for you, keep looking until you find an option that feels good, works well, and proves easy to use. Wax-coated floss is generally the best option for cleaning the teeth and gums without causing unnecessary soft tissue irritation, bleeding, or harm to the protective layer of enamel.
2. Take It Slow and Easy
Take your time with flossing. Just like not flossing can lead to soft tissue damage, flossing too aggressively can cause the gums to recede. As an essential part of your oral care routine, this isn’t something that you want to rush through. Avoid snapping the floss roughly down and in-between the teeth. When performed at the right angel and with the right amount of force, flossing should allow you to gently remove residue without causing soreness or excessive bleeding. If the spaces in-between your teeth feel too tight to permit the floss, try lubricating your tool with flossing oil. If you aren’t a regular flosser and are just starting a new flossing routine, you can expect to experience slight resistance and light bleeding for the first several sessions.
3. Use A Gentle Scooping Motion
Once you’ve gotten your floss or flossing tool between your teeth, gently follow the curve of each tooth structure to lightly scoop matter out from beneath the gum-line. Pull this material up and out with the floss and then rinse it off, or move on to a new, clean section of floss before addressing the next tooth. Move through your mouth slowly and methodically while addressing both the upper and lower teeth so that no space is missed. If you’re thorough, you should be able to pull air through your teeth when done.
4. Floss Before Brushing
Flossing is best done before brushing. This process pulls up trapped food so that it can be cleaned away. Flossing after you’ve brushed your teeth draws out bacteria and particulates that undermine the benefits of brushing. Once your teeth have been flossed, gently brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and then use a quality mouthwash. This order of operations increases the overall effectiveness of tooth brushing and allows antiseptic mouth rinses to more effectively clean in-between the tooth structures.