Am I Flossing Right?

girl holding floss by her teeth in chandler

Knowing how and how often to floss properly is essential for keeping good oral hygiene. Flossing removes plaque that can develop between your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by cleaning the tight spaces in between teeth that your toothbrush can’t seem to reach. Take the time to learn how to floss properly to ensure that your teeth are healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Floss Once a Day

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing your teeth once a day. If you get into the habit of flossing before you go to bed at night, you won’t need to worry about flossing more than that. Excessive flossing is ineffective and can actually cause damage and irritation to sensitive gum tissue.

Use a Gentle Touch

It’s important to be gentle when flossing. Many people apply a lot of pressure or use a vigorous sawing motion, thinking this will get their teeth clean. But this kind of forceful flossing can lead to bleeding gums. Instead, floss lightly. Do not force or snap the floss against the gums. Try to use the side of the tooth to slide the floss gently into place.

Standard Floss: Waxed vs. Unwaxed

What is the difference between waxed and unwaxed floss, even if it’s just a preference? Nylon floss comes in both varieties, and there are some pros and cons to each. Waxed floss glides more easily between teeth, snaps less often and is softer against your gumline. Unwaxed floss can be more effective in parsing out fine debris particles and for reaching between crowded teeth, but it can snap and snare on teeth. Shredded floss can occur when you have rough surfaces in your mouth, such as uneven teeth, old fillings or braces. Likewise, constant snaring may injure gums and cause discomfort or bleeding.

close up of floss and teeth male

Unfortunately, many people disregard this wisdom, with statistics published in U.S. News and World Report showing that only about one-third of the U.S. population flosses daily. But common or uncommon, it’s integral to preventing tooth loss and gum disease.

How often should I floss?

You should floss at least once a day, and do so by moving the floss in a push-pull and up-and-down motion between your teeth. To get the best results, particularly if you have braces or other oral considerations, it’s always best to seek your dentist’s instruction on the best way to floss your teeth.

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