The Art of Flossing

Master the Art of Flossing 
Flossing is an efficient way to remove harmful bacteria-ridden plaque from between the teeth and beneath the gums – the places where a toothbrush cannot always reach.

The Art of Flossing at North Seattle DentalPlaque accumulates by allowing food and drink to remain on the teeth after eating. And what is plaque? When you eat food with carbohydrates, these carbs combine with the mouth’s natural bacteria to create an acid. This acid then combines with old food particles and saliva that creates a sticky and hard substance known as dental plaque.

It’s the exposure to the bacteria in this built up plaque that can lead to tooth decay, like cavities, and periodontal disease (disease of the gums).

While flossing is a great way to help minimize the food debris and plaque around our teeth, it’s unfortunately often not done correctly, or even regularly.

When it’s done the right way, you should be able to floss without a mirror, or in the dark, without cutting off any circulation in your fingers!

Choose Your Floss – Before you begin, you must choose your floss, and all floss is not the same. It comes in three different types, such as nylon ,PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene – try to say that a few times!), which is made of the same material used in high-tech Gortex fabric, and dental tape. Any of these types will help to remove food particles and debris, but verify with your dentist as to which option might be best for you.

Nylon floss is made of multiple strands, so it’s not uncommon for this floss to break or shred when it’s used between tightly spaced teeth. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and flavors and can be purchased waxed or un-waxed.

PTFE floss is more durable and less likely to break, making it a preferred choice for flossing tightly spaced teeth.

Dental Tape is a wider, more flat nylon that comes waxed and unwaxed. As many people find that tape is easier to slide in between the gaps of the teeth, especially if there are larger gaps between the teeth.

Once you’ve decided upon the type of floss, you’re ready to master the art of the floss, weedhopper.

5 Ways to Master the Art of Flossing
As you floss, use a mirror to begin with, so that you can see the inside of your mouth.

  1. Using about 18 inches of floss, gently wrap the floss around one index finger and then wrap a few additional inches around the other index finger.
  2. Place the floss between your forefingers and thumbs and insert it between your teeth, hoding it tightly.
  3. Make a curved “C” shape with the floss and angle it against the side of your tooth.
  4. Gently rub the floss up and down against the side of the tooth, making sure to get below the gumline. Tip: If the floss breaks, you may be using too much pressure and can bruise your gums.
  5. Repeat the process on each tooth, using a clean area of the floss as you move from one tooth to another, loosening and tightening the floss. This will also help keep your fingers from getting too uncomfortable. Tip: Be mindful of your back teeth to make sure that they don’t get left out.

When you’ve completed flossing all your teeth, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash. Need a cheat sheet? If you need a little extra help to become the master of the floss, here’s a step-by step flossing chart from the American Dental Association.

Once you’ve mastered the art of flossing, you’ll be able to floss without a mirror, in the dark or with your eyes shut. You will be “one with the floss”.

While a recent news report has suggested that flossing might not be helpful, our opinion is that flossing is a low cost, low risk addition to your daily dental hygiene that can provide potential long-term benefits.