Dr Pyle's Weston Dentist Blog

What is the proper way to floss?

We direct our Weston area patients, both adults and kids, to follow the four steps recommended by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association:

  1. Wind: Wind about 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Then pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one- to two-inch length in-between. Use your thumbs to direct the floss between your teeth.
  2. Guide: Keep a one- to two-inch length of floss taut between your fingers. Use your index fingers to guide the floss between the contacts of the teeth.
  3. Glide: Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a sawing back-and-forth motion. DO NOT SNAP THE FLOSS BETWEEN YOUR TEETH. Be sure to contour the floss around the side of the tooth so that it wraps halfway (180°) around the tooth.
  4. Slide: Slide the floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.

Should I brush or floss first?

Whether you floss before or after brushing is not as important as just being sure that you do some type of interdental cleaning such as flossing.Today there are a variety of options available ranging from various types of floss, flosser tools, soft picks and electronic air flossers.

What type of floss should I use?

In our Weston dental office we tell our patients that it really does not matter what type of floss they use: waxed, unwaxed, spongy floss or dental tape.Just use what you prefer so you are more likely to floss.Be sure to floss all your teeth—remember this includes the backside of the very last tooth on the left, right, top and bottom of your mouth! Be sure to floss under the gum line.We remind the parents of children with missing teeth to insure that they floss along the sides of teeth that border any spaces where teeth are missing.

Some of our patients even prefer to use a non-floss interdental cleaner—it doesn’t matter which product you use, just as long as you do it!

How do I use a Flosser?

Using a hand-held flosser is similar to traditional flossing. Grip the flosser handle firmly and point the flossing tip at an angle facing the area you want to floss.Then guide the floss gently between two teeth. Use the same sawing motion that you would us with standard floss.You should be able to bend the floss around each tooth and slide it under the gum line and along each tooth surface.

I just find it too difficult to floss, is there other products that are easier to use?
Yes there are a variety of other types of products today that can assist you in with interdental cleaning.Many of our Weston area patients like to use the Soft-Picks® and keep them on hand for when they are away from home.An electric flosser is a battery-powered device that cleans between your teeth with a floss-like string that vibrates rapidly. It is similar to an electric toothbrush in that it eliminates some of the manual work of flossing.One of the newer products on the market is the Air Floss device, which makes use of airburst and micro droplets of water to get rid of food debris and plaque from between your teeth.
How do I floss if my children or I wear braces?
Regular brushing and flossing is especially important for adults and kids with braces.We advise our Weston area patients to take care in avoiding getting floss caught on wires or brackets.There are special orthodontic floss products available which have a stiff end that can be threaded under the main arch wire on your braces.Alternatively, you can use a floss threader.To use a floss threader, place your floss through the loop and then insert the pointed end of the flosser under the wire and pull it through to position the floss under the wire. Then you can proceed with the flossing technique that I described earlier.

Are the benefits of flossing really worthwhile?

Like all new habits, it may be difficult at first to get used to flossing and make it part of your daily routine, but with practice you will become proficient and miss it if you are unable to floss.Remember, some studies suggest that “flossing regularly can make your Real Age as much as 6.4 years younger”. (Real Age by Michael Roizen, MD).

Stephen J Pyle, DDS
General Dentist in Weston since 1986

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