The Proper Way & the Wrong Way to Floss Teeth : Caring for Your Teeth
There Is a Right Way to Floss and You're Probably Not Doing It
You brush your teeth twice a day, but flossing should be just as much a part of your daily routine. In fact, it’s critical to keeping your teeth healthy. “You can brush your teeth all day long until your hand is tired from holding the toothbrush, but there are still areas, like where your teeth touch together and the gum line in between, that the brush cannot reach,” says Frederick Abeles, D.D.S., clinical instructor and regional director of the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies with a private practice in Atlanta.
While brushing can help erode the bacteria on some of your teeth, some areas will be overlooked if you don’t floss. This bacteria causes both gum disease and decay, and when it combines with your saliva and food, it creates plaque, a clear, colorless, sticky film that adheres to your teeth.
Just imagine that when you don’t feel like flossing: bacteria throwing a house party on your teeth. Ick. After that, it’s no surprise that Abeles recommends flossing twice a day, right?
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So How Do You to Do It?
1.Wrap the floss around your middle fingers so you can use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss.
2.Gently push it between two teeth and “use a gentle sawing motion back and forth until the floss pops down through the contact point, which is the one specific point where the teeth touch together,” says Abeles.
3.Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth, making a C-like shape, then gently slide up and down. Do this several times, making sure to go slightly underneath the gumline, then repeat on the other side of the tooth.
4.Pull the floss out and rotate it so you’re using a clean spot.
5.Don’t stop if you start to bleed. “If your gums are bleeding, that’s because of bacteria that’s causing inflammation,” says Abeles. Keep at it once a day, and in a few weeks, you’ll probably see an improvement.
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Not everyone’s mouth is the same; if you have any issues that make it hard to use regular floss, you can buy floss picks, likeDenTek Triple Clean Floss Picks(, dentek.com), that have the floss pre-positioned on a little handle. “It’s not as preferable because you can’t make the C motion around the teeth, but it still gets the job done,” says Abeles. And if you have really large spaces between your teeth, keep an eye out for super floss, which has a fuzzy portion that fits in between big spaces in your teeth and gums.
The floss Abeles recommends most highly (and isn’t affiliated with in any way),Oral-B Glide (, ), is coated in a very light layer of wax. “One of the big reasons a lot of people will stop flossing is because it’s hard to get between the teeth, or the floss snaps or shreds or gets stuck,” he says. “Just like the name, this has been engineered so that it really does glide between the teeth.”
And while it doesn’t really make a difference if you floss before or after brushing your teeth, says Abeles, he prefers after. “When you brush first, you’re getting more gross removal of the bacteria that’s in your mouth,” he says.
Video: How to Floss Those Hard-to-Reach Back Teeth
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