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How to floss your teeth

HOW TO FLOSS YOUR TEETH

Many of us brush are teeth twice a day, but do you floss your teeth as well? Well, many people forget to do that! Do you know how to floss your teeth? Do you know how to floss around crowns? You need to know how to floss your teeth, without flossing or other forms of cleaning that your dentist will recommend, there is no way to keep the surfaces between your teeth clean.

Because of this, your teeth are prone to develop cavities or holes in your teeth if you do not know how to floss your teeth correctly. If you do not know how to floss your teeth properly it can result in inflamed gums and this can lead to eventual loss of the teeth and periodontal disease. I is impossible to see the holes without dental xrays, until they are already quite big! So its very important to floss and go to your dentist for regular dental checks.

Why do we need floss?

Floss is a piece of thin string that allows good access to the in-between surfaces of your teeth to remove all the bacteria, plaque and food products that are stuck. Your toothbrush is not designed to be able to remove all the bacteria from between your teeth. Leaving that bad bacteria there will give rise to dental problems such as cavities and gum disease which you want to avoid!

How to floss your teeth

The Big Question – How to floss your teeth?

  1. Take a piece of floss about 18 inches long, or roughly the length between the tips of your fingers and your elbow.
  2. Leaving about two inches between your hands, wrap the floss around your index and middle fingers on both hands
  3. Slide the floss in between two teeth, then wrap it around one of the teeth into a ‘C’ shape around the base; gently slide it under the gum line. Now, wipe the tooth two to three times from base to tip.
  4. Make sure you floss the sides of both teeth it’s surprising how many of us only do one side. Use a new section of the 18-inch piece of floss for each tooth, as it wears and picks up particles as you use it.

Do it right

Be careful to avoid these four flossing mistakes:

  • Not flossing enough

You need to floss daily to prevent build-up of the dreaded tartar. And remember, when you first begin to floss, gums can bleed’don’t let that deter you. Try to floss at night before bed so the     plaque between your teeth doesn’t have all night to rest and fester.

  • Not removing the plaque

A lot of us use floss only to remove food that’s stuck between our teeth. Remember, for floss to be useful, you need to spend the time required to remove plaque: scraping the surface up and          down two or three times, moving gently below the gum line, on both sides of each tooth. Having difficulty? Ask your dentist to recommend a type of floss (waxed vs. unwaxed, for example) suitable for your teeth.

  • Not using enough pressure

It takes some elbow grease to actually clear the tooth of plaque. Press firmly against the tooth, while moving gently and slowly when guiding the floss under the gum line.

  • Not flossing long enough

Most of us have 28 teeth, which means it should take us about two minutes for decent results. Add in the two to three minutes required for brushing, and it takes about five minutes an evening to ensure you have a set of teeth that can last you a lifetime.

What Type of Floss Should I Use?

Types of Dental Floss and Aids:

If you are not familiar with dental floss then it is easy to assume that there is only the one type but you’d be wrong. There are in fact several types of dental floss which include:

  • Waxed and unwaxed floss
  • Teflon floss
  • Thread floss
  • Flavoured (e.g. mint) and unflavoured floss
  • Tape floss (also known as ‘dental tape’)

These all have the same thing in common: they are soft, flexible and easy to use.

Thread, teflon and waxed/unwaxed floss is thin whereas dental tape is thicker. Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to recommend the most suitable floss for you. You may have to try several varieties until you find the one that suits you best.

It is usually a case of personal preference.

Floss is also available in different ‘shapes’which is spongy, flattened or round. There is also a variety called ‘superfloss’which is a combination of all three.

There is also the option to use a special ‘flossing aid’ if you have difficulty with flossing your teeth.

Waxed and unwaxed floss

Some dentists prefer unwaxed floss as the threads tend to absorb food particles better than the waxed version. They claim that waxed floss leaves a film on the teeth which then act as a magnet for plaque.

On the other hand, some people find that waxed floss is smoother and moves more easily between the teeth than unwaxed floss. It is less likely to catch on any rough edges of your teeth or start to fray.

One example is Oral-B Waxed Dental Floss. They also offer a mint flavoured variety.

Teflon floss

This type of floss works quickly and easily. It is made from Teflon which means that it will not stick in between your teeth but if it does, then it comes away very easily.

A well known brand of this type of floss is Crest ‘Glide’.

Glide appears to have attracted rave reviews and is especially designed for people who are reluctant to floss their teeth. It is made from a shred-resistant material and is stronger and more durable than many other types of floss. It also moves or ‘glides’ easily between your teeth – hence the name ‘Glide’.

Thread floss

This is made from nylon and works in the same way as any other type of floss.

Flavoured and unflavoured floss

A flavoured type of floss, for example mint or cinnamon, is more pleasant to use and leaves a nice, clean taste in the mouth. There is also a type of floss which is coated in fluoride which may protect against tooth decay.

The unflavoured type of floss is as the name says.

Tape floss (dental tape)

This is thicker than conventional types of floss and is often preferred by people who have widely spaced teeth. It is an ideal type of floss for people new to the habit and has the advantage of not breaking or fraying.

It also has a smooth action when sliding between the teeth and for that reason, is often chosen instead of the thread type floss.

An example of this is Colgate Dental Tape.

Flossing aids

A flossing aid is designed to help people who find flossing awkward or difficult to do. However there are several types of aids which are designed to make this easier to do. These include:

  • Dental floss holder
  • Flossing stick

Dental floss holder

A floss holder is available in a particular form, e.g. a ‘Y’ shape and is effective at helping to clean between the teeth. The floss is attached to the holder and used in the same way as someone using their hands.

Floss holders vary in length and those with the shorter handle are more difficult to use.

These are ideal for people with dental implants, a bridge, orthodontic brace or crowns.

Flossing stick

These resemble a common or garden stick and are most effective when the floss is wound tightly onto them. Basically, the tighter the floss the greater its effectiveness.

Are there any alternatives to dental floss?

Toothpicks or ‘interdental’ brushes are an option although floss is great at accessing those tricky areas between your teeth and under your gum line.

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