Brushing your teeth is a crucial part of maintaining dental hygiene, but it’s only one part! If brushing is all you’re doing to keep your teeth healthy, you are skipping the 40% of your teeth’s surfaces that are located between your teeth.
Make sure you don’t fall for claims from toothpastes, toothbrushes, or mouthwashes that say they can clean between your teeth. Unfortunately, the only way to clean between your teeth and under your gumline is to floss.
Types of Floss
You only need to floss the teeth you want to keep—so make sure to keep some floss on hand! There are many types of floss, so how do you know which is right for you? The choice can be especially difficult if you have braces, but fear not! There are options available.
The best way to choose is to consult with a dentist or hygienist, but in the meantime, here is a field guide to the various types that are available:
- Floss Threader: Floss threaders make it possible to floss around appliances, like braces. They are disposable tools which resemble large plastic needles. To use these, all you need to do is thread the floss through the eye of the threader, and use the threader to pass it beneath the wire of your appliance, and floss as usual.
- Floss Holder: This is a plastic, Y-shaped tool. If you have trouble gripping floss, this can help you to hold on.
- Polytetrafluoroethylene Floss: We have trouble saying this too! This sometimes goes under the name Glide. Polytetrafluoroethylene is also used to make high-performance rain gear. As floss, it’s perfect to use with tightly spaced teeth.
- Dental Tape: Available waxed or unwaxed, this is a wide, flat floss that’s ideal for teeth which aren’t spaced as tightly.
- Super Floss: This comes as individual portions of floss with sturdy ends that allow you to slip the floss under wires or around implants.
- Unwaxed Floss: This is a thin nylon yarn that is good for use with closely spaced teeth. It’s more likely to break or fray during use than waxed floss.
- Waxed Floss: The is basic floss that’s been coated in a layer of wax. The wax makes it less likely to break during use, but more difficult to use in tight spaces.
The Proper Way to Floss
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 40% of Americans floss every day, and 2 out of 10 never floss. These numbers are far too low! In order to maintain a healthy smile, you need to floss daily.
Once you build up the habit, you’ll have a hard time skipping your daily flossing session! If you’re new to the idea or just need to make sure you’re on the right track with your hygiene, follow these steps:
- Cut a measure of floss that’s about 18 inches long. Hold either side of the two-inch section, and wrap those around your middle fingers.
- Pull the floss taut, and slide it gently in the spaces between each tooth.
- Form the floss into a “C” shape that curves around the base of each tooth, where it meets your gums. Clear the floss away from under your gumline, but be gentle! If you snap the floss into place, that can do damage to your sensitive gum tissue.
- Slide the floss back out from between your teeth.
- As you continue flossing, be sure you are moving your piece of floss so you’re always working with a clean section.