General Dentistry Advice: How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

January 2, 2023

Practice Proper Preventative Dental Care Between Visits to Your Dentist

man cleaning his teeth

Flossing is an important part of your dental hygiene routine. Floss cleans between your teeth and around your gum line, where bacteria are often trapped, along with plaque and food particles.

If you don’t floss, you’ll end up with plaque buildup along your gum line, which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, or cavities.

Today, E-Care Dentistry demystifies the flossing process and explains the tools you’ll need.

Ask a Dentist: How Often Should I Floss?

Although dentists recommend brushing twice per day, you need to floss only once a day, such as before bed. Brushing your teeth after you floss can help dislodge any additional debris and plaque that the floss loosened. At the very least, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after flossing as part of your complete dental care routine.

Consider these additional flossing tips for the best possible oral health:

  • Don’t reuse or share floss, as this can spread bacteria and cause infection.
  • Use an ample amount of string floss so you can use fresh sections for each tooth.
  • If you have difficulty holding string-type floss, try using a floss holder or a different type of floss.

Kinds of Floss for Dental Care

You can choose from a number of flossing tools that get the job done well. All are available for purchase at your local drugstore, big box discount store, or online. A dentist near you can recommend brands and features that will work best for your teeth and gums.

  • String-type floss, either waxed or unwaxed
  • Dental tape, ideal for people with wide gaps between their teeth or who have dental bridges
  • Floss pick
  • Water flosser

And if you’re undergoing an orthodontic treatment, your dentist or orthodontist can provide you with flossing accessories that make it easier to get around wires and brackets, such as floss threaders for use with string-type floss or floss picks made especially for people with braces. Even if you need one of these implements to floss with braces, you’ll follow the same general technique as anyone else.

Kinds of Floss for Dental Care

Floss and dental tapes are all used with a similar technique. Start by finding the kind of floss you prefer. Some people like waxed for its strength and reduced fraying, while others find that unwaxed fits into tighter spaces between teeth more easily. You can use the type you like best, or ask your dentist for their recommendation.

Regardless of the one you choose, you’ll need a couple feet of it to floss your teeth. Start by wrapping 18 inches of it around your two middle fingers. Hold the floss between your thumb and pointer fingers, which you’ll use to guide the floss between your teeth.

Move the floss between your teeth with a gentle back-and-forth motion, curved against one tooth until the floss reaches your gum line. Slide the floss between the gum and tooth – but be gentle! – and use an up-and-down movement until you’ve covered the surface of the tooth. Use a new section of floss as you repeat the movements between every remaining tooth, including your back molars.

How to Use a Floss Pick

In general, floss picks are less effective than string-type floss, so you’ll need to take great care if you choose to use them. They are, however, a great tool to have in your purse or backpack or when you go camping because they’re more portable and easier to use.

First, gently slide the floss part of the pick between your teeth and press it against your gums. Slide it back and forth and up and down to remove food particles. Rinse the pick between teeth to keep it clean and to avoid spreading bacteria or plaque.

How to Use a Water Flosser

Often, your dentist may recommend you try a water flosser if you’ve had great difficulty using floss in the past, or if you wear traditional metal braces. Water flossers are wonderful tools for most people, when used properly. They remove plaque and debris from between your teeth and along your gum line using a stream of water.

To use a water flosser, you’ll need to add water to its reservoir. Place the spray tip in your mouth, aiming it at your gum line. Trace your gum line with the water spray, moving fairly quickly so as not to irritate your gums. Be sure to clean your gum line on the back sides of your teeth.

To prevent overspray or messes, water flossers work best if you lean over your sink and let the excess water run back out of your mouth. Portable, non-electric-powered water flossers also can be used in the shower; just step out of the spray of your shower head before using it.

Expert Cosmetic and General Dentistry in Olathe, Kansas: That’s E-Care

Follow better dental care practices this year by making an appointment at a dentist near you, like E-Care Dentistry, conveniently located in Olathe, Kansas, in the Kansas City metro area.

Here, you’ll find a comfort menu so you can relax while our experienced, excellent dentists take care of you, plus a long list of cosmetic services to help you smile with confidence.

Make an appointment for preventative dental care online – and don’t forget to floss!