Facts On Flossing

Dr. Allen Sun of Laurentian Dental Centre Kitchener

Dr. Allen Sun, Laurentian Dental, Kitchener

Many people just don’t spend enough time flossing or brushing, and some may have never been taught properly.

Flossing is perhaps the single most important weapon against plaque, possibly even more important than your toothbrush!

Flossing removes plaque and debris in between your teeth and under the gum line, (places that your toothbrush can’t reach) polishes tooth surfaces, and helps control bad breath.

Fact is, if you’re not flossing, you’re not cleaning 35% of every tooth. I’d like to tell you about two alternative flossing methods: the “spool” method and the “loop” method.

Prairie dog flossing.

Remember to floss both sides of every tooth!

Photo by Angela N.

The “spool” method is best suited for people with good manual dexterity. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. Then wind the remainder of the floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed during use. Maneuver the floss between the teeth with your index finger and thumbs, wipe each tooth from base to tip two or three times.

Remember to floss both sides of every tooth. Don’t rub the floss side-to-side as if you’re shining shoes, and don’t pull the floss down hard against your gums or you’ll hurt them. The “loop” method of flossing is suited for children or adults with less nimble hands, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except your thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going gently below the gum line forming a “C” on the side of each tooth.

“Brushing your teeth after flossing increases flossing’s effectiveness.”

Spend at least two or three minutes, at least once a day in order to give your teeth a good flossing. Brushing your teeth after flossing increases flossing’s effectiveness.

Dental floss is available in a wide variety of forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavoured and unflavoured, wide and regular. Wide floss may be helpful for people with a lot of bridgework, and is usually recommended if the spaces between the teeth are wide. Waxed floss may be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However unwaxed floss makes a “squeaky” sound to let you know your teeth are clean.

If you’d like more help with this essential procedure, next time you visit the dentist or hygienist ask to be shown how to floss properly.

Yours for better dental health,