The Do's and Don'ts of Flossing

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For everyone out there, flossing is an essential step in dental care for maintaining and improving oral hygiene. Floss can help you get to the small spaces between your teeth that a toothbrush typically misses.

Doing this every day can help to further prevent tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. If plaque builds up enough to become tartar, only your dental hygienist can remove it.

How often should you be flossing?

To prevent plaque buildup and maintain healthy gums, you should be flossing once per day. “Professional cleaning, tooth brushing, and cleaning between teeth (flossing) have been shown to disrupt and remove plaque.” according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

While it’s not necessarily convenient to floss morning and night, or after every meal, it’s important to choose a time that you do it every day. Whether it be after lunch or before bed, choosing a time and working it into your routine is the best way to stay consistent.

Using the proper flossing technique

First off, you should be using enough floss to adhere to the proper technique. The ADA recommends using 18” of floss. You should be curving the floss around your teeth to effectively remove any plaque buildup.

Keep about 1-inch open between your wrapped thumb and index finger, to gently guide the floss between your teeth. Move the floss lightly back and forth to remove plaque. Make sure you are using a new section of the floss with each tooth, to ensure you aren't putting any removed plaque back into your mouth.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when flossing:

Do’s of Flossing:

  • Floss daily

  • Hold the floss correctly

  • Curve the floss around your teeth

  • Set a routine

  • Be gentle

  • Use the correct amount, 18”

Don’ts of Flossing:

  • Think brushing or mouthwash replaces flossing

  • Reuse floss

  • Be overwhelmed by all the types of floss (look for ADA approval)

  • Use a “saw” motion

  • Floss too aggressively

  • Use too small of a piece of floss

Types of floss

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all of the options on the market. While you may have a preference, they’re all going to complete the same action, so don’t get overwhelmed. If you’re having difficulty selecting a specific kind, be sure to discuss this at your next visit to the dentist.

Traditional Floss

The traditional type of floss that is wrapped around your fingers is easy to come by and continues to be the industry standard. Unwaxed floss is great for people who have a “crowded mouth” that find it difficult to get the floss between their teeth. If you’ve got little ones who tend to have wider gaps between their teeth, you might want to consider dental tape as it is wider and more comfortable to use.

Disposable Flossers

There are plenty of options for flossers with handles. The handles make these a great choice for kids who can’t seem to get the hang of the movement or adults who simply want an easier feel. Flossing daily with this method will add to your trash output, so that's one thing to keep in mind.

Electric Flossers

In recent years, some high-tech options have entered the market. For example, water powered “floss” is a fantastic option with numerous settings to get the job done and a comfortable handle to make it that much easier. However, they aren’t necessarily considered “better” than the good old-fashioned standard.

Make sure your teeth are healthy by visiting Rasmussen Dental

If you’re not already a dedicated flosser, it’s never too late to start working this healthy habit into your routine!

Schedule a cleaning at Rasmussen Dental to find out if your teeth are looking the way they should. Whether you need help removing plaque buildup or just need to polish your pearly whites, our family dental practice would love to help you keep your teeth healthy.