Using dental floss: A source for flossing technique 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 regarding the use of dental floss.

Even though we've decided not to create our own topic we have outlined a number of pointers on how to use floss that we feel are important for you to understand. We hope that you will skim through our list here so when you read's text you know to pay particular attention to the information they provide regarding these points.

When using dental floss, think in terms of using the floss to scrub as much of the surface of each tooth as is 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. The vast majority of people, including those who do use dental floss regularly, simply do not have a grasp of this concept. Dental floss is intended to clean teeth by way of scrubbing dental plaque off their surface. Effective flossing is not accomplished by just placing dental floss between teeth. Effective flossing involves placing dental floss between your teeth and then drawing it up against the side of each tooth individual tooth and scrubbing as much of its surface as is possible.

Effective flossing technique includes cleaning that portion of a tooth's surface that lies below its gum line.

Effective flossing can only be accomplished if you allow the dental floss to clean that portion of each tooth's surface that lies below the gum line. The dental plaque that occupies this region is the plaque that will have most to do with the health of the gum tissue surrounding the tooth. Since so many people experience problems with gum disease, flossing thoroughly below the gum line should be a prime consideration.

When flossing your teeth, make sure you keep the pressure of the dental floss up against the side of your teeth.

Always keep the pressure of the dental floss against the sides of your teeth, never drawn onto your gum tissue. Flossing has to do with scrubbing dental plaque off each tooth's surface. 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.

Understand why your gums may bleed when you floss your teeth.

If you notice that your gums bleed or are tender when you floss it is typically a sign that you are not flossing frequently enough, or else you are using an ineffective or improper flossing technique. It is almost never a sign that you should discontinue the use of dental floss. 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.

Demonstrate for your dentist how you use dental floss, so they can insure that your flossing technique is appropriate.

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

Dental 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. Here 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.

A once a day flossing recommendation is related to the rate at which dental plaque reforms.

The goal of flossing your teeth (and brushing too) is to scrub dental plaque from the surface of your teeth. After 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 dental plaque to reform fully, hence the once a day recommendation for flossing your teeth.

Daily flossing helps to minimize dental tartar formation.

When left undisturbed dental plaque can transform into dental tartar. Dental tartar is simply calcified dental plaque, the minerals needed for the calcification process coming from saliva and other oral fluids. The initial stages of the transformation of dental plaque into tartar can take place in as little as 24 to 72 hours. Once dental tartar has fully formed on your teeth it really can't be brushed or flossed off. For this reason it is important to floss daily, so dental plaque is cleansed away before it ever has a chance to transform into tartar.

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