Why Is Flossing So Important?

Flossing Tips

Benefits and tips.

Why it’s important not to skip flossing

Flossing should be an essential step in your daily dental hygiene routine. Proper flossing will remove plaque and food particles that get stuck between teeth and under the gum line where your toothbrush bristles are unable to get to.

Plaque contains bacteria that feeds on leftover food or sugar in your mouth and can lead to tooth decay. Plaque that has been left for a while can harden and turn into a substance called calculus (tartar) which collects along your gum line and can cause gum disease. Preventing calculus from forming is important as only a dentist can remove it once it’s there.

Doesn’t using mouthwash do the same thing?

Mouthwash is great accompaniment to brushing but should never replace flossing. Mouthwash will freshen breath and help remove some food particles from between the teeth but won’t get all the sticky plaque off the way flossing does. Plaque needs to physically be removed with the act of brushing and flossing.

Why do my gums bleed when I floss?

Cleaning between your teeth should never be painful however if you’re just starting out your gums may bleed a little the first few times. Your gums bleed when they are inflamed from bacteria that hasn’t been flossed out. They can also bleed when you’re too rough and snap the floss down roughly on the gum line rather than sliding it gently up and down. If the bleeding continues after a week or two of regular flossing using the correct techniques, visit your dentist to find out what the issue is.

What is the proper technique for flossing?

Grab 18” floss (or an arms length) and wrap it around both pointer/index fingers holding it taught between finger and thumb. Most of it should wrap around one of the pointer fingers while making sure to have a few inches to work with in the other hand.

Guide the firm strand in between each tooth, gently sliding it up towards the gum line. Once at the gum line make a C shape with the floss and follow the shape of the tooth gently sliding it up and down. Repeat on both sides of the tooth.

Using a clean section of floss move to the next tooth and so on. The back of the teeth are often difficult to reach with floss but it’s important not to skip them. Practice makes perfect but if you’re still finding it too hard try using a floss holder which will assist in reaching the back teeth using only one hand.

How often should I floss?

Ideally you should floss whenever you brush, but at the very least once a day and especially at night before bed.

What type of floss should I use?

It doesn’t matter what type of floss you use so long as you use it but here are a few of the types you can get on the market:

Regular floss comes in both waxed and non waxed varieties. Waxed floss, is as the name suggests, coated with wax which makes it stronger and able to glide between normal spaced to wide spaced teeth more easily. The wax coat makes the floss slightly thicker and so for those of us with very close set teeth we may find the non wax variety easier to use.

Both types of regular floss come in flavoured varieties which leaves a fresh feeling and help make the process more enjoyable and pleasant.

Regular floss is made from both nylon or more expensive option PTFE (single filament) which is less prone to shredding in between very close, tight teeth.

Dental tape is another option suitable for those with normal to wide spaced teeth. The flat tape is often favoured as its broader profile covers a larger areas at a time. 

Disposable floss picks are a convenient option however are not as effective as regular floss. They are great to keep in your office drawer and are better than not flossing at all, but if possible stick to the regular stuff.

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