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Oral Hygiene

Flossing 101

While brushing twice a day and making the twice annual visit to your dentist are recommended in order to maintain good oral health, the American Dental Association suggests adding interdental cleaners, such as floss, to the everyday oral hygiene routine.

An article published by the ADA explains that cleaning between teeth, with interdental cleaners such as floss, removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach.

Oralb’s list of the different Types of Dental Floss include : 

  • Unwaxed floss. Thin nylon floss made of about 35 strands twisted together. It fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together, but it can be prone to shredding or breaking.
  • Waxed floss. A standard nylon floss with a light wax coating. It is less likely to break, but the wax coating may make it harder to use in tight spots.
  • Dental tape. Broader and flatter than standard floss and comes in waxed or unwaxed versions. People with more space between their teeth often find dental tape more comfortable to use than standard floss.
  • Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE). The same material used in high-tech Gore-Tex fabric. The material slides between the teeth easily and is less likely to shred compared to standard floss.
  • Super flosses. Are made from yarn-like material that has stiffer sections on each end that can be used to clean around braces or dental bridges.

As there are several different types of flosses, Jefferson Dental Care also recognizes various flossing tools that take on a variety of forms such as:

  • Traditional Floss. (waxed/unwaxed)
  • Floss pick. A small plastic tool with a curved end that holds a small piece of dental floss. Accompanied by a small plastic pick at the other end to be used for the removal of large food particles that get caught along the gum line or between the teeth
  • Oral Irrigator. A flossing device that uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food particles between teeth

While there are several debates regarding the effectiveness of unconventional flossing techniques versus traditional flossing, the most important thing is to make flossing least once a day everyday a habit.

For optimal results using traditional floss and dental tape, the ADA  recommends following these steps:

  • Use about 18 inches of floss wound around one of your middle fingers, with the rest wound around the opposite middle finger.
  • Hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers and gently insert it between the teeth.
  • Curve the floss into a “C” shape against the side of the tooth.
  • Rub the floss gently up and down, keeping it pressed against the tooth. Don’t jerk or snap the floss
  • Floss all your teeth. Don’t forget to floss behind your back teeth.

Whether you’re using floss or another type of interdental cleaner, it is important to understand proper technique for each tool used to achieve optimal results. When in doubt, always consult your dentist to ensure you’re using appropriate tools and techniques most suitable for your mouth.