We all want the perfect smile. Your smile says a lot about you. And so do your teeth. And so we do our best to take great care of our teeth. We brush twice a day. We use mouthwash to keep bacteria from forming on our gums. We even try to monitor our diet so that it will be "tooth friendly" and we do not eat too much sugary when we're unable to brush our teeth afterwards. But no matter how hard we brush our teeth- no matter how hard the bristles of our toothbrush are or how aggressive and dense we are, tooth brushing alone will not clean between our teeth. Flossing is an essential part of proper dental hygiene. But how to do it? Maybe you've had bad experiences flossing and caused your gums to bleed. Maybe you never find anything between your teeth so you think it's pointless. Well you're wrong. It's not pointless. It's important! And so let's discuss some of the proper techniques behind flossing properly.
Some dentists have suggested that if you were to toss our toothbrush and floss properly, once or twice every day, you would achieve better dental health than brushing alone three, five or eight times a day. Learning the proper ways to floss takes time and patience. Some dentists will show you how to floss at your biannual check-up. Some dentists charge for flossing lessons. But you will find that it will be the best dental health expense you ever pay.
Your choice of dental floss is a largely a personal one. There are two major options: waxed or weaved floss. Lightly waxed floss works for most people. But if you find that the floss shreds between your teeth, you may want to try a more waxed floss or weaved floss (or try a higher quality brand of lightly waxed floss). If you have difficulty threading the floss through your teeth, try a coated, or weaved, floss, such as Glide.
Let's go through the process step-by-step.
1. Wind about 18 "of floss around your two index or middle fingers, or thumbs. This will depend on which combination you find to be most comfortable and the easiest to maneuver.
2. Gently (and that's the key!) Guide the floss between teeth, removing plaque and debris by moving the floss up and down against each tooth.
3. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it into the space between the gum and tooth. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth.
4. Floss your back teeth in the same manner, using a fresh section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
5. Carefully avoid flossing the triangular part of your gums (the papilla) between your teeth.
6. Never snap the floss into your gums.
Some of you may complain that you are unable to get between certain teeth because they are so close together. Or maybe you have metal wires glued to your teeth in the form of braces or a permanent retainer. You may find that using floss "threaders" is an effective method of flossing. The threader allows you to "thread" the floss between teeth that are typically too tight to floss between.
If you just can not bring yourself to floss regularly, try using Listerine or another antiseptic in addition to flossing. Most dentists agree that using Listerine daily will greatly improve the dental health of people who do not floss daily.