Flossing all willy-nilly can get you and your teeth in trouble. Follow these 9 essential tips, and you’ll be flossing like a dentist in no time!
Daily flossing is one of the pillars of dental health.
An oral care routine without it is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly.
But while some flossing is better than none, it’s important to have the proper technique to ensure you’re getting the job done right.
If not, you could leave plaque and harmful bacteria between your teeth, which are the primary causes of gum disease, aka gingivitis.
To help you avoid issues like these, we built this list of nine essential tips that will teach you how to floss like a pro.
If you’re already a diligent flosser, go through them and see how many you know. You might find one you’ve never heard of before!
1. Don’t Force it
Sometimes it can be tough to get in between certain teeth.
Usually, the back molars take a little extra oomph to get through, but if your teeth are overcrowded or naturally have small gaps, the front teeth can be challenging too.
No matter which ones give you trouble, whatever you do, don’t force it! Popping the floss through with brute force can spell bad news for your gums.
Not only can the excessive force cause your gums to bleed, but it can also lead to gum recession.
When your gums are subjected to too much pressure over time, the body responds by gradually pulling them back, which reveals more of your teeth. Eventually, this constant pressure can expose the roots of your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity.
So, if you encounter resistance when flossing, try pulling the floss back and forth while applying steady but controlled pressure towards the bottom of your tooth.
Your gums will thank you!
2. Leave No Side Unflossed
The main purpose behind flossing is to remove bacteria, plaque, and food debris from in between teeth and beneath the gum line.
The reason it’s such a powerful dental care tool is because floss reaches where your toothbrush can’t.
But depending on your technique, that may not be the case.
If you only slide the floss up and down once before moving on to the next one, chances are you’re neglecting a good portion of your teeth.
When you’re in between two teeth, it’s essential to apply sideways pressure against one tooth while gently sliding the floss beneath the gum line, and then repeat the same motion against the other tooth.
That way, you can cover both sides of each tooth, clearing out any plaque that’s hiding out of sight.
3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Flossing faster doesn’t necessarily mean better — as with most things that require hand-eye coordination.
In fact, it often means the opposite.
Going too fast can lead to the complications from tip number one as well as the lack of proper technique that we discussed in tip two.
So, don’t rush it. The more precise you can be with your movements, the cleaner your teeth will be!
4. If You See Red, Don’t Throw in the Towel
If you have mild to severe gingivitis (or you’re brand new to flossing), it’s not uncommon for your gums to bleed during a floss session.
Unfortunately, the sight of blood can often spook people into quitting. And understandably so.
But although your gums may be sensitive to flossing, the harmful bacteria hiding behind your gums still needs to be removed — especially if you’re struggling with gum disease.
After all, that bacteria is what leads to plaque, which is the main cause of gum disease.
So, if you notice your gums bleed when you floss, the first thing you should do is contact your San Diego dentist. Then, make sure to floss with care. And most importantly, don’t give up!
5. Switch (or Clean) it Up
When you floss, the string picks up food particles and oral bacteria from between your teeth.
But if you keep using the same section of floss, you’re essentially just spreading plaque around from one part of your mouth to the other.
To avoid letting all your hard teeth-cleaning work go to waste, make sure to move to a new part of the string after each tooth. Or, if you’re using pre-threaded floss or an interdental brush, give them a rinse in between each one.
6. If Traditional Floss is Too Difficult, Explore Other Options
Let’s be honest. Regular floss can be a pain.
Having to wrap each end around your finger and adjust to a different section of string for every tooth can be a lot of work, especially for young children or those with mobility issues.
Luckily, however, there are plenty of alternatives that can get the job done just as well.
Tools like pre-threaded flossers, interdental brushes, and water flossers are well-known for their ease of use and reliability when it comes to cleaning in between teeth.
In fact, research suggests that water flossers are twice as effective as traditional floss.
So, if you’re searching for another option, give one or all of the above interdental cleaners a try to see which works best for you and your smile.
7. Don’t Forget to Floss Behind Your Back Molars
Yes, there aren’t any teeth behind them to floss between, but that doesn’t mean bacteria and plaque don’t like to hang out back there!
In addition to cleaning the backs of your rear molars when brushing, make sure to give them some love when flossing too.
It’ll only add a few extra seconds to your flossing routine, and the extra attention definitely couldn’t hurt!
8. Find a Routine and Stick to It
If you don’t already have one, developing a flossing routine can help you hit every tooth consistently.
Whether you like to start from the bottom, top, left, or right side of your mouth, having a pattern to stick to can make sure you get the most out of each flossing session.
9. Don’t Neglect Your Restorations
Whatever kind of restoration you have — whether it’s a crown, implant, removable bridge, or denture — don’t forget to floss in between or around them.
These surfaces are just as vulnerable to oral bacteria as your natural teeth and need the same level of attention to prevent dental health issues.
When you get restorations, they become part of your smile, and they should be cared for as such!
Still Have Questions? Give Us a Ring
The moral of the story here is that flossing does what brushing can’t, and with these helpful tips, you have the tools to maximize your teeth cleaning potential at home.
But if you have any additional questions or you’re looking for affordable dental care in San Diego, give us a call at Dental Express. You can also set up an appointment online or visit us for a walk-in if that works best for you.
Family-friendly care at a reasonable price is what we do, and we’re always happy to help however we can!