How to Floss Properly

Posted on: September 5, 2018

Oral Hygiene

Brushing twice each day and flossing at least once is an essential part of proper oral care. When that is coupled with bi-annual visits to a dentist for checkups and dental cleanings, patients are virtually guaranteed to have healthy teeth. Brushing and flossing help to remove surface stains and plaque from teeth, while cleanings get rid of tartar and plaque buildup.

Why proper flossing is essential

Brushing and flossing perform the same function, removing food particles, plaque and debris from the surface of teeth. Flossing is the way a person "brushes" areas of the mouth that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach, like the spaces between teeth. When food particles stick to teeth, the bacteria that live in the mouth convert them into acids that can damage teeth. Brushing and flossing removes these particles before they can damage teeth. Flossing helps to:

1. Prevent tooth decay

Tooth decay is one of the leading issues that dentists deal with. It is also one of the common reasons why people end up losing their teeth. Tooth decay is caused by the acids in the mouth that damage enamel and other parts of a tooth. The cavity eventually makes its way into the pulp chamber and causes an infection if left unaddressed.

2. Prevent gum disease

Poor oral hygiene is one of the main reasons people develop gum disease in the first place. The earlier stages are reversible, but the latter stages can lead to gum recession, jawbone recession and tooth loss. Gum disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque making their way beneath the gumline. Flossing daily helps to remove plaque before it can make its way into the gums.

3. Keep breath fresh

Bad breath is often caused by food particles that are stuck between teeth. It is virtually impossible to have fresh-smelling breath when a piece of spinach from two weeks ago is still stuck between a person's teeth.

4. Prevent stains

Taking good care of teeth helps to prevent stains caused by the things a person eats. Many items like coffee, tea and red wine have strong coloring agents that can change the appearance of teeth when left on them for prolonged periods.

How to floss properly

As was mentioned earlier, flossing is a great way to remove food particles and plaque from the spaces between teeth. These areas are known as interdental regions. These are the most difficult part of a person's smile to clean since the bristles of a toothbrush cannot get into them. With dental floss, these areas can be just as clean as the front and back of the teeth.

Here are the steps people should follow when flossing:

  1. Start with a piece of floss that is about 18 inches in length
  2. Wrap an end of the floss around the middle finger of both hands. Keep wrapping the floss around the hand that is easiest to use when both fingers are about three inches apart
  3. Gently push the floss between the teeth and start working it towards the gumline
  4. Use the floss to form a "U" shape around each tooth and slide it beneath the gumline
  5. Gently move the floss up and down the tooth to remove plaque
  6. Repeat as necessary

Contact one of our dentists to learn more about flossing properly.

Let's get started…

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Thomas Dental Care, request an appointment in our Davis dental office here: Or call us at (530) 486-1104.

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