Good oral hygiene involves more than just brushing your teeth. It also involves flossing and knowing how to floss correctly. Even though we have been flossing our teeth for years, many of us are surprised to learn that we’re not doing it properly.
Flossing helps remove bacteria, plaque, and food from between your teeth, and it reduces the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease. Along with regular brushing and flossing, make sure you also schedule regular dental cleanings at least twice a year.
These four steps are the best and easiest ways to help you remember how to care for your mouth, teeth, and gums:
- Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes, especially first thing in the morning and before bedtime
- Floss every day – usually at bedtime
- Limit the number of times you eat snacks each day
- Visit your dentist every six months for an oral exam and professional cleaning.
What is the Best Time to Clean Between Your Teeth – Before or After Brushing?
The most important thing about cleaning between your teeth is to do it. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care. People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from cleaning between their teeth first thing in the morning or after lunch. Others might like to go to bed with a clean mouth.
Even children need to clean between their teeth too. However, cleaning between teeth requires manual dexterity which is not possible in very young children so teach your child how to floss as soon as they start brushing on their own.
Flossing should not be painful. If done vigorously, it would damage the tissue between the teeth. If done too gently, you might not be getting the food out. It is normal to have some discomfort when you first start but don’t give up. With daily brushing and cleaning between your teeth, that discomfort should ease within a week or two. However, if your pain persists, talk to your dentist.
What is the Right Way to Floss?
Proper flossing removes plaque and food particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach – under the gumline and between your teeth. Because plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, daily flossing is highly recommended.
We should floss at least once a day, but not everyone knows the right way to do it.
Use this step-by-step guide to find out how to properly floss your teeth:
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the backside of your last tooth.
Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss could leave bacteria behind in your mouth so do not use it again.
Source: Compiled from websites, video credit to the Australian Dental Association.