How often do you floss? Research shows that many Americans don’t floss often enough. The American Dental Association has found that the best oral health comes from flossing at least once a day, but if you’ve been making regular visits to your Overland Park family dentist, you probably already knew that. So maybe you do floss every day, but here’s the problem: you may still be doing it wrong.
Even among those of us who do floss every day, there are many who aren’t flossing properly. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: Flossing improperly isn’t something to be ashamed of, as long as you’re committed to learning how to floss the right way (and teaching your family members to do the same). Learning the correct way to floss is a great way that you can improve your oral health with just a few simple tips.
So first off, what is it that we do wrong when we floss?
- Using too much slack: When holding your dental floss, make sure you keep the floss tight between your hands, and you want to use just a few inches of floss between your teeth to keep that tension. This will make flossing easier and more effective.
- Using the same floss for your whole mouth: Another benefit of using just a few inches of floss between your teeth is that it allows you to just slide the floss down in order to get access to a different part of the floss. That’s important, because using the same section of floss for the whole job can spread bacteria around inside your mouth. For best results, switch to a different part of the floss every few teeth.
- Skipping spaces: When you floss, it’s important to make sure that you floss between every tooth, including any gaps or spaces between teeth. Just because your teeth aren’t close together doesn’t mean that food or bacteria can’t collect in those spaces.
- Forcing your floss: At the same time, if you’ve got a tight spot between a couple of your teeth, don’t force the floss into it. You could cut up your gums, which can let bacteria in and increase your risk of gingivitis. Instead, gently work the floss in by applying a “sawing” motion and gentle but firm pressure until the floss is through.
So that’s what not to do. Now here are a few quick pointers on the right way to floss:
It doesn’t matter when you floss, as long as you’re doing it at least once a day. When flossing, measure out a strip of floss and then wrap it around the index fingers of both your hands. To do your upper teeth, curl your hands into fists and then hold the floss level between your thumbs. For your lower teeth, hold the floss level between your middle fingers. This gives you the optimal control to guide the floss gently in every part of your mouth. Once you’ve finished, it’s important to rinse your mouth out in order to get rid of any plaque or food particles that you may have loosened by flossing. And of course, no matter how well you floss and brush, you still need to supplement your oral health habits with regular visits to your friendly Overland Park dentist!
This article brought to you by Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas. Our friendly office specializes in preventative dental care for the whole family. To make an appointment, please call (913) 338-3384 or click here to fill out our online contact form.