Every dentist encourages their patients to floss regularly in order to protect their oral health. However, even if you follow your dentist's directions and faithfully floss, it might surprise you to learn that there's a right and a wrong way to go about it. If you're not flossing correctly, you may not be achieving the full benefits flossing can deliver. Read on to learn what you must do in order to protect your oral health while flossing.
Pulling the Floss Beneath the Gumline
Flossing can help to keep your gums healthy in a way that brushing can't, because floss can pull out debris and bacteria from under your gums. However, if you're not properly going beneath the gumline with your floss, your gums won't see many health benefits from flossing.
To floss under your gumline, draw the floss down between two teeth, right down to where the gums are. Pull the floss taut towards one tooth, then gently slide the floss down past the visible tooth. Your floss should temporarily disappear under your gums. If your gums aren't healthy, you may experience some slight discomfort and bleeding from this process.
Pull the floss back out, and repeat the process against the opposite tooth. Make sure to be gentle so you don't accidentally cut your gums with the floss.
Sweeping Over the Sides of the Teeth
Just pulling the floss down between your teeth and back up again can help to loosen debris and make it easier to get rid of with brushing and rinsing. However, it won't help to liberate your teeth from the bacteria biofilm that causes plaque.
To get rid of your biofilm, pull the floss down between your teeth, and then taut against one tooth. Repeatedly lift and lower the floss, scraping it against the edge of your tooth. Make sure that you apply equal pressure to both sides of the tooth's edge, especially while you're cleaning your molars. This process will help to loosen the biofilm and get it off your teeth, reducing your risk of cavities.
Some people think that choosing to floss before or after you brush is a matter of personal preference. However, the reality is, if you're flossing after you brush your teeth, you're not fully benefiting from flossing.
Flossing can loosen and move debris and bacteria, but it can't kill the bacteria or permanently remove the debris from your mouth. To do that, you need to brush your teeth after you floss. Doing so will flush away everything you've loosened up and coat the freshly-exposed parts of your teeth with fluoride, which will help to strengthen them and protect them from cavities.
If you're already dedicated to flossing, you deserve to give yourself a pat on the back. Just make sure that you follow these steps to fully benefit from all the hard work that you're putting in to your oral health. Talk to your dentist, someone like Pacific Ave Dental/Allan L. Hablutzel, DDS, for more information.