Four Key Elements of Proper Flossing
Gum disease begins at the gum line and between teeth. Daily flossing is an important part of your oral health care routine to help remove the plaque from these areas where a toothbrush doesn’t completely reach. But to truly reap the benefits, you need to use proper flossing technique.
Here are the key elements of proper flossing technique in four simple steps:
- Wind: Wind 18 inches of floss around middle fingers of each hand. Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one- to two-inch length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.
- Guide: Keep a one- to two-inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.
- Glide: Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. DO NOT SNAP FLOSS BETWEEN YOUR TEETH. Contour floss around the side of the tooth.
- Slide: Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.
This technique applies to any type of floss: waxed, unwaxed, spongy floss or dental tape. It doesn’t matter whether you start with your upper or lower teeth, or whether you start in the front or the back. Just make sure that you floss all your teeth, including the back side of the very last tooth on the left, right, top and bottom of your mouth. And don’t forget to floss under the gum line and along the sides of teeth that border any spaces where teeth are missing -- food particles can become trapped in these spaces, too.
Poor flossing technique can result in complications, and it's important to be thorough yet gentle, especially when flossing with an electric flosser. Be sure you understand how to use it. You can always ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you if you are uncertain.