How many times have you heard your dentist and dental hygienist tell you to floss? You nod your head and, maybe, you try flossing for a while. Then old habits take over. Well, it bears repeating: is one of the best things you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Bacteria accumulate between the teeth and where the tooth meets gum tissue. Every 24 hours brings a new batch. Brushing won't get rid of the bacteria, flossing correctly will.
Flossing before or after brushing should be a part of your home oral health care program. It doesn't matter which floss you use, and it doesn't require special skills, although practice makes perfect.
Here's a general routine to follow: wrap floss around your fingers, leaving five to six inches to work with. Keep the floss tight.
When the floss frays, re-loop the floss and continue flossing.
If you feel as if you're all thumbs, use a flossing threader. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how.
Choose a section of teeth; say your upper molars, which are most difficult to reach. Follow the curve of enamel on every surface, reaching wherever you can, with about three passes each time.
If an opening between teeth is tight, you may have to gently pull the floss toward the gum line. Be careful not to damage soft tissue.
Work from the back teeth toward the front while flossing, and then repeat the process on the other side. Rinse when you're done. The time you invest in plaque removal will pay real dividends at your next dentist cleaning visit. Your dental hygienist will be proud!