Flossing is an essential part of home dental care and the only way to address plaque and decay-causing bacteria in the tight areas between teeth. Many people skip this step because they feel it’s too cumbersome—an issue often related to using the wrong technique. Understanding the dentist-approved way to floss ensures a seamless process that will give you the most for your efforts.
How to Floss Properly
1. Hold & Position the Floss
First, draw 18 inches of floss. Wrap one end around your thumb and one around the other hand’s index finger. You can also wrap them around the index fingers. Pull the floss tight and keep your fingers at the ends to avoid getting the floss dirty.
2. Insert the Floss
Next, carefully insert the floss between your teeth. You may need to wiggle it back and forth until it moves into the crevice. Make sure you can draw it all the way down to the gum line. If you’re having trouble, be patient. Forcing the floss between your teeth may lacerate your gums.
3. Scrape the Plaque
Once the floss is between your teeth, draw your fingers away from the tooth to form a C-shape. Slowly move the floss up and down to remove plaque, focusing on the sides of each tooth. Once complete, you can move on to the next tooth. Readjust the floss to use a clean segment each time you move to the next tooth.
If you’re still having trouble with floss, there are a number of alternatives to explore. Children and people with arthritis who have trouble holding floss may benefit from an air or water-jet flosser. These respectively use powerful air and water jets to blast food particles and plaque from between teeth. You may also want to give dental picks a try. These wands hold a single piece of floss and can be easily maneuvered in the mouth.
As important as flossing is, biannual trips to the dentist are crucial to a healthy smile, and Dr. Robert N. Petrtyl, DDS, of Cincinnati, OH, can assist if you’re overdue. Dr. Petrtyl is backed by 30 years of experience and offers services including root canal therapy, gum disease treatment, and cosmetic dentistry solutions. Call (513) 554-4657 to schedule an exam and learn more about this dentist online.