How to use dental floss. -

A source for flossing instructions and animated pictures.

When it comes to the subject of using dental floss, we've decided not to "reinvent the wheel." has a section that does a good job of explaining dental flossing technique (including a number of animated illustrations). We've chosen to defer to their pages for a source for information on this topic.

Even though we've decided not to create our own topic, this page outlines several pointers on how to use floss that we feel are important to understand.

a) Use the floss to scrub as much of the surface of each tooth as possible.

When reading's flossing instructions, take note of their description about pulling the dental floss up against the side of each tooth being cleaned. A vast majority of people simply don't have a grasp of this concept.

Dental floss is intended to clean teeth by way of scraping plaque off their surface. Effective flossing can't be accomplished just by snapping it between your teeth. You must place it in between and then draw it up against the side of each tooth individually, scrubbing as much of each tooth's surface as possible.

b) You must clean below the gum line.

Effective flossing can only be accomplished if you allow the floss to clean that portion of each tooth's surface that lies below the gum line.

The dental plaque in this area is the plaque that will have the most to do with the health of the gum tissue surrounding your teeth. Since so many people experience problems with gum disease, flossing thoroughly in this region should be a prime consideration.

c) Keep the pressure of the floss up against the side of your teeth.

Always keep the pressure of the dental floss against the sides of your teeth, never draw it onto your gum tissue.

You don't floss your gums, you floss your teeth. Directing the pressure of the dental floss onto your gum tissue will only serve to traumatize it.

d) Understand why your gums bleed when you floss.

If you notice that your gums bleed or are tender when you floss, it's typically a sign that you're not doing it frequently enough, or else you're using an ineffective or improper technique. It's almost never a sign that you should discontinue flossing.

Having said that, if after a week or so of practicing correct, diligent and thorough flossing you still notice regions that bleed, you should consult with your dentist so they can evaluate your situation and recommend a remedy. In many cases the solution needed may be as simple as a routine dental cleaning.

e) Demonstrate for your dentist how you floss.

It's hard for a website to fully illustrate the details of flossing. You should study and learn the information on Then, demonstrate your interpretation of their instructions to your dentist or dental hygienist so they can evaluate and refine your technique as is needed.

f) Flossing needs to be performed on a daily basis.

There are a number of arguments you can make regarding why flossing on a daily basis is needed to maintain good oral health.

Below are two important ones. One is based on the rate at which a clean tooth will be colonized by dental plaque. The second is based on the rate at which dental tartar can form.

1) A once-a-day flossing is based on the rate at which dental plaque reforms.

The goal of flossing your teeth is to scrub dental plaque off their surface. Once a tooth's surface has been cleansed, the process of dental plaque formation will begin immediately. But it will take about 24 hours for the plaque to reform fully, hence the once-a-day recommendation for flossing your teeth.

2) Daily flossing helps to minimize dental tartar formation.

When left undisturbed, plaque can transform into dental tartar. Tartar is simply calcified dental plaque. The minerals needed for the calcification process come from saliva and other oral fluids.

The initial stages of the transformation of plaque into tartar can take place in as little as 24 to 72 hours. Once it has fully formed on your teeth it really can't be brushed or flossed off. For this reason it's important to floss daily, so dental plaque is cleansed away before it ever has a chance to make the transformation.



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