How to Floss Effectively

flossing1. Take a length of floss about 18 inches long.

2. Wind about 2 inches round the middle finger of your right hand.

3. Wind the rest of it round the middle finger of your left hand.

4. Using your index fingers slip it in between the teeth to below the gum level taking care not to injure the gums. Effective flossing can only be achieved if you allow the dental floss to clean that part of each tooth’s surface that lies below the gum line. The dental plaque that is situated down here is the plaque that will have most to do with the health of the gum tissue surrounding the tooth.

5. Wrap it tightly round one if the teeth and floss 2 – 3 strokes, up and down, to dislodge food and plaque. Take care that you adequately clean the triangular area by the gum. Always keep the pressure of the dental floss against the sides of your teeth, never drawn onto your gum tissue as it may injure it. Flossing has to do with scrubbing dental plaque off each tooth’s surface.

6. Move on to a fresh piece of floss and repeat down all the gaps.

7. Floss at least once per day, preferably before brushing, and at night due to the fall in the rate of saliva. After a tooth’s surface has been cleaned, the dental plaque begins to reform immediately. However it will take about 24 hours for it to reform fully, hence the once a day recommendation for flossing your teeth. When left undisturbed dental plaque can turn into calcified and hard dental tartar. The initial stages of the transformation of dental plaque into tartar can take place in as little as 24 to 72 hours from the minerals in saliva. Once dental tartar has fully formed on your teeth it really can’t be brushed or flossed off.

8. If you notice that your gums bleed or are tender when you floss it is typically a sign that you are not flossing frequently enough, or else you are using an ineffective or improper flossing technique. It is almost never a sign that you should stop the use of dental floss. Having said that, if after a week or so of practicing correct and thorough flossing you still notice regions that bleed, you should ask your dentist so they can assess your situation and recommend a solution. In many cases the answer needed may be as simple as a routine dental cleaning.

Last updated: March 12, 2014

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