Flossing teeth with string dental floss or tape isn’t as easy as it looks. However, it’s the most popular type of flosser used as it’s convenient to carry, cheap and can be used whenever it’s needed.
A lot of people don’t realise that they are flossing incorrectly which can lead to damage to gum tissue. So by learning how to floss your teeth properly, you’ll be able to efficiently remove plaque and bits of food which will help to improve your overall oral hygiene.
Our step-by-step guide will show you how to use dental floss with the correct technique and how to floss the back teeth with it which is often quite hard to do because of the angle.
Through this, you can reap the maximum benefits of proper flossing that includes better oral health, keeping your teeth into old age, preventing gum disease and much more.
How to Use Dental Floss
There are several types of dental floss which can vary from waxed to flavoured. Dental tape is similar to string floss but the main difference is that tape is wider and flatter which may be more suited to teeth that have a larger surface area. Regardless of which one you use, the technique we’ve outlined on how you can correctly floss your teeth remains the same:
- Wash your hands: You’re going to be putting your fingers in your mouth so you wouldn’t want any extra dirt or bacteria going into your gums when you floss.
- Break off 45 to 55 cm of floss: A fairly long piece needs to be used as you need a clean bit when flossing each teeth.
- Position the floss around your fingers: To make it easy to use the floss, coil a small amount of the floss on the middle finger of one hand and on the other hand, wrap most of it around the middle finger. Leave about 2 to 3 cm of floss in between your fingers unwrapped. By not using the index finger, it’s left free to control the floss.
- Insert in between your teeth: The correct way to insert floss in between teeth is to slide it in carefully without letting the floss ‘pop’ into your teeth and hit your gums. This is done in a zigzag motion or sawing back and forth until you reach the gum line.
- Make the ‘C’ shape: Pull the floss against the side of your tooth so it forms a ‘C’ shape and gently rub it against the tooth whilst pulling the floss upward. You should be going from the gum line to the top of your tooth. Repeat this on the tooth beside it before sliding the floss out.
- Unwind more floss: From the bigger amount of coiled floss around your finger, unwind to use a clean section as you move onto the next tooth.
If you haven’t flossed for a while or never have, your gums may bleed at first so don’t be alarmed if this happens. Carry on and as the health of your gums improve, the bleeding will stop. However, if it doesn’t or you feel pain, it’s best to stop and see a dentist.
This same method is how you can floss the back of your teeth as well but it might take a bit longer as it can be hard to reach. You’ll need to open your mouth wider too which can be a little uncomfortable.
However, it’s important not to leave the back teeth unflossed as they tend to collect more food bits than any other teeth since it has more grooves and ridges to enable us to use them to chew food.
There are reasons why people might want to skip flossing:
- It can be time consuming so people end up not bothering.
- They don’t know how to floss their teeth properly and an incorrect technique can cause damage to the gums which can often leave them tender and sore.
- Most people find it quite difficult to use string floss.
String dental flossing is only effective when it’s done properly. If you find it hard to get the hang of this, then using a floss pick or floss holder will make flossing teeth a bit easier.
If you’re wondering how to use a dental floss pick, it’s actually quite straightforward. They come in either a Y or F shape angled pick which works the same way but are just angled differently.
Both of them have a piece of floss attached across the ‘C’ shaped end which is taut making it easier for you to slide it in between your teeth. These can reach the back of your teeth more easily and comfortably. It’s also ideal for anyone who has limited dexterity.
How to Use a Water Flosser
An alternative way to effectively flossing your teeth can be done with water. No it’s not done by rinsing your mouth with water. How you can floss your teeth properly with water is with a water flosser.
This type of flosser operates electrically and has a water reservoir attached to it which should be used with warm water. They’re big and it might look like it’s hard to use for some people but it’s actually pretty simple:
- Fill the water tank with warm water and attach the tip to the flosser handle if it’s not already on.
- Adjust the pressure control to your desired level. You can test the pressure by pointing the tip into your hand over the sink.
- Whilst leaning over the sink, place the tip of the water flosser into your mouth wherever you want to start (ideally at the back of the teeth) at a 90 degree angle and turn it on to get the water running.
- Keep your mouth closed to prevent the water from splashing and stay over the sink as there will be water flowing from your mouth.
- Once you’re done, turn it off before taking it out.
Why use a water flosser?
- Easy to use: There’s no strings attached so you won’t be struggling to slide a piece of floss in between your teeth. With a water flosser, a tip is used which sprays water out. Flossing is done by pointing the tip between your teeth and along the gumline and letting the water do the work.
- Quick: Dental string flossing can take up to 15 minutes depending how good you are at flossing your teeth correctly. A water flosser takes less than 2 minutes or 1 minute if you’re a pro at it.
- Effective and gives better results: It’s been clinically proven that water flossing is 50% more effective than traditional dental string flossing. It’s better at reducing gingivitis, removing plaque and preventing gum disease as well as leaving your mouth cleaner and fresher.
It makes your teeth cleaning routine a bit more fun especially for children. So there’s no excuse for forgetting to floss your teeth now!
How Often Should You Floss Your Teeth?
We eat everyday so we should be brushing our teeth everyday. Whenever you brush your teeth, you should include flossing as a part of your teeth cleaning routine. Skipping the flossing part will only cause food particles to build up between your teeth or along the gumline which hardens to plaque and leads to gum irritation. Eventually this leads to gum disease and if it’s left untreated, then it causes decay to teeth.
Some people like to floss after every meal and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can floss how often you want in the day but otherwise it’s recommended that you floss at least once a day preferably at the end of the day.
In the long run, by learning how to floss your teeth properly and then regularly doing this, it will make it easier to maintain clean teeth and oral health. The buildup of plaque will be reduced which means less tooth and gum problems so that’s less trips to the dentist. You get to keep your teeth for your whole lifetime too.