Flossing: Tips for Healthier Teeth

Flossing should be part of your regular oral health, but many Americans ignore this dental hygiene practice. A third of Americans don't floss at all, and even more than that only floss when they remember to. Remember, children should begin flossing regularly starting at around age two.

When you floss your teeth, you take extra measures to remove plaque and food that is stuck between your teeth and under your gumline. These are areas that the typical toothbrush can't reach and, without proper flossing, these hard-to-clean oral spots become susceptible to bacteria and infection. To keep cavities and gum disease at bay, floss or use a dental pick or other flossing tool at least once a day.

Flossing is more than running a string between your teeth. Use this guide, along with the advice of your dental practitioner, to keep your teeth in quality condition.

Flossing also regularly does not eliminate the need for regular dental checkups, so schedule for a dental cleaning twice a year or as recommended by your dentist.


Floss Under Your Gums

Plaque easily builds up between your teeth and under your gumline. Plaque has bacteria that thrives on food and sugar in your mouth. Plaque releases acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. When you don't clean up plaque with regular brushing and flossing, the material turns into hard tartar, which inflames gums and leads to gum disease.

Flossing under your gumline reaches the plaque buildup before the material turns into hard to remove tartar. When you floss correctly, you also remove food particles that you can't see.

Hold your floss string taut between your fingers and swoop your floss into a curve, following your tooth's natural shape, when you reach your gumline. If your floss all but disappears into your gums, you've gone far enough. Be careful not to tear or snap your gums when flossing, especially near the base of your teeth.


Floss Correctly

Don't jerk back and forth when flossing your teeth. Gentle strokes or simple up and down movements of your floss will dislodge most particles between your teeth and in your gums. This quick flossing technique will remove more of the bacteria that makes your mouth unhealthy and will help keep your gums free of disease and deterioration.

Use a new piece of floss when yours starts to fray, tear, or has ample amount of debris on the string from flossing.

If your gums bleed or feel painful after flossing, there are a few reasons why.


You Have Gum Disease Already

Bleeding gums is a leading sign of gum disease. If your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, gum disease may be to blame.


You Don't Floss Enough

Irregular flossing makes your gums tender and can lead to pain following flossing. Floss every day, taking care to reach the back teeth especially, to help your gums get used to regular flossing.

Report sharp, stinging pains in single areas of your teeth to your dentist if you experience strange sensations only when flossing. Cavities or other signs of tooth decay may be to blame for the pain you feel.


Use Correct Floss

Floss comes in many varieties, including waxed or unwaxed nylon, Polytetrafluorethylene, or even a thick yarn-style material call Super Floss. If you wear braces, then thicker, more durable Super Floss is best for your needs. Polytetrafluorethylene floss is ideal for you if you constantly tear or wear out traditional nylon floss. 

Your dentist will show you the correct way to hold and use dental floss. Flossing correctly helps preserve your oral health. Call our dental professionals at Airport Road Dental Associates to keep your smile healthy and beautiful today.