How to Floss

How to floss like a bossEven if you’re already flossing twice daily as recommended by Dr. Zachary Sisler of Smile Design By Sisler in Shippensburg PA, you may not be doing enough to stave off tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease). While the importance of brushing to your oral hygiene regimen cannot be understated, flossing is equally important. Only the plaque-forming bacteria and particles that are easiest to reach are removed by brushing your teeth.

These natural bacteria create plaque when combined with saliva and food particles. Plaque is a substance that is clear and colorless substance but binds to your teeth and provides a home for bacteria. The bacteria thrives if your plaque is allowed to build up and begins to eat away at your tooth enamel which eventually leads to cavities.

This where flossing can save the day. Flossing clears the places that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth, cleaning your teeth of food particles and plaque. However, if you aren’t flossing with the proper technique you may not get the full benefit. As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Flossing is that ounce of prevention where tooth decay is concerned. Regular flossing as recommended by Dr. Sisler could help you to avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that can become necessary when tooth decay is allowed to flourish unchecked between teeth.

How to Floss

  1. Wrap a length of clean floss about 18 inches long around your middle fingers on each hand. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should only wind one direction, bringing the dirty floss one way and revealing clean floss to use as you continue.
  2. Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” (back and forth) motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
  3. Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently work up and down your tooth. Repeat this step several times and be sure to go slightly underneath the gum-line, then do the same on the other side of the tooth. Your should do this for each tooth.
  4. Again remember to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can make you sick if reintroduced later.
  5. Don’t be too concerned if you notice that your gums are bleeding as you floss. A little bleeding is to be expected if you don’t floss regularly. This bleeding is from your floss irritating the inflammation that the bacteria dwelling there has caused. If you brush at least twice daily and floss daily, you should see an improvement in the health of gums in one to two weeks’ time, noticeable by a decrease or absence of blood when doing these things.

Things to Know

Some patients buy the floss picks to clean the spaces between their teeth. These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are cheap and easy to use but they don’t really do the job you need done. Most dentists would prefer if you used a length of “free” floss and your hands as floss picks don’t allow for the correct method of flossing to be used due to the fact that you cannot wrap them around a tooth (see #3 above).  However, it’s still better than neglecting to floss at all.

Many dentists feel that flossing after your brush is most effective as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss. If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 717.271.7052 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Sisler in his Shippensburg PA office today.