Let’s be honest. Most people dislike flossing. It’s a time-consuming process that may seem like it makes no difference in your oral health. Anyone who flosses can clearly observe that it dislodges food that a toothbrush frequently misses and removes extra plaque when used properly. Not frequently known is that if you don’t floss, the additional food, plaque, and germs will eventually harden into tartar, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

Flossing is one of the best things you can do for oral health. But how exactly do you floss? Is it really something we’re supposed to do every day?

This post will provide five flossing tips to impress your hygienist and dentist.

#1 Why is flossing important and what can it prevent?

Flossing is essential because it removes tartar/plaque buildup in between teeth. Individuals who do not floss can present with, but are not limited to, the following: Inflammation, dental caries, periodontal disease, periodontal pockets, malodor, recession, etc.

During sleep, our bodies “slow down,” and functions such as salivary flow in our oral cavity do not work as fast. Our saliva inhibits oral bacteria from adhering to one surface, which means that if we do not floss/brush before bed, we risk dental complications.

#2 – How many times should I be flossing daily?

Ideally, it is important to remove interproximal plaque/tartar buildup with flossing and interdental aids twice daily (in the morning and at night).

#3 Should I floss before or after brushing?

Flossing before brushing helps remove debris between our teeth, allowing fluoride from a dentifrice (toothpaste) to reach interproximal surfaces to prevent dental caries.

#4 What type of floss should I use?

While there are many products on the market for cleaning the interproximal surfaces of our teeth, it is important to understand that some products may not work as effectively for some as they do for others. The products your dental professionals recommend are individualized to your dental status. The hygienists at Nevins Dental Center are available to provide you with the proper tools and techniques to improve your oral health.

As a dental hygienist, I recommend that my patients keep it ‘simple and effective’ using string floss. I recommend waxed floss for individuals with tight contacts because it prevents it from shredding/breaking in between the teeth. For a patient with recession and wide interproximal spaces, I recommend a thicker floss, or dental tape coupled with an interdental aid (proxabrushes, etc.). For oral prosthesis/bridges/fused crowns, I recommend Superfloss or Floss threaders.

Your dental hygienist can assist in finding the proper products for your individualized dental home care routine. Please do not hesitate to ask us questions regarding products and techniques during your next dental hygiene visit.

#5 How do I properly floss?

Instructions for String-Floss:
(1) Cut a piece of string floss and gently wrap it around two fingers.
(2) Keep these two fingers close together, and make sure the floss in between is pulled tightly. (Keeping our fingers close and pulling the floss tightly allows for more control and fewer chances of snapping the floss and hitting our gums between teeth).
(3) Gently insert the floss in between teeth (using a gentle ‘sawing motion’).
(4) Wrap the floss around each tooth and slowly bring it down until you reach the gum line. (It is safe to bring floss slightly underneath the gum line, but remember to maintain gentle pressure).

At Nevins Dental Center, we love seeing patients who have worked hard to clean their teeth. Of course, some patients struggle to floss consistently but don’t let that throw you off. We’re happy to help and give you quick flossing tips.

Evangelia Ventouris headshotAbout the author: Evangelia is one of three dental hygienists at Nevins Dental Center located in Boston. She is passionate about raising awareness of the importance of overall dental health, having a thorough and personalized home care routine, tips on techniques, and procedures offered at Nevins Dental Center. Evangelia enjoys providing individualized dental care and educating patients. To schedule an appointment at Boston’s best dental office, call our office at: 617-720-0285.