Have you ever heard the phrase “only floss the teeth you want to keep”? Flossing, like brushing your teeth, should be an integral part of your overall oral care. When you aren’t flossing, you miss cleaning at least two whole sides of your teeth which adds up to a HUGE portion of your mouth. A toothbrush can only reach only so many surfaces, and without flossing you are at a higher risk for cavities, gum disease and other periodontal issues. Flossing removes plaque from in between the teeth, while also stimulating the gum tissue, which is essential for keeping your gums healthy and tight. You want your gums to be tight to prevent plaque from getting in there and manufacturing bacteria.
How do I get into the habit of flossing?
Everyone develops habits in different ways. Some suggestions of how to start working flossing into your daily routine include:
- Keep the floss everywhere (that way you can do it whenever you think of it).
- Start by doing it once a week (you will begin to start to crave that clean feeling and want to do it more).
- Add a post-it note to your mirror, don’t write on it (it will serve as a reminder and not writing on it will be less like you are taking orders).
- Use the method that works for you: Floss Picks, Woven or Waxed etc.
- Pair the flossing with some other habit you do every day. That way one event will eventually start to cue the other.
Tips on flossing from the hygienist’s mouth:
- Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with.
- Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth.
- Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line. Never force or saw the floss back and forth, this can damage the delicate gum tissue.
- Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth, NEVER re-use floss.
- To remove the floss, use the same up and down motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth.
- Make sure you curve up the side of each tooth you’re going in between because you get more plaque off.
- Hit every tooth, including the back side of your very back teeth! Remember- floss every tooth you want to keep.