Brushing your teeth is important, but did you know that the spaces between your teeth make up 40% of their surface? For optimal oral health, you need to clean between your pearly whites!
Many types of mouthwash, toothbrushes, and toothpastes make claims that they can clean between teeth, but those claims aren’t true. You need to use floss to clear plaque away from your gum-line and the spaces between your teeth.
Types of Floss
It can be overwhelming to choose the type of floss that works for you, especially if you have braces, implants, or other dental work that gets in the way of flossing. Don’t worry, your hygienist will be able to help you select the proper type and recommend any tools that you may need to floss effectively.
In the meantime, here is a guide to various varieties on the market:
- 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 with a layer of wax. The wax makes it less likely to break during use, but more difficult to use in tight spaces.
- Polytetrafluoroethylene Floss: We won’t quiz you on pronunciation! A common brand of this type of floss is Glide. It is made of the same material as high-performance rain gear, also called Gore-Tex. Use this type to clean around the gums of tightly spaced teeth.
- Dental Tape: This can be waxed or unwaxed and is flatter and wider than other types of floss. If your teeth aren’t as tightly spaced, this could be a good choice for you.
- Super Floss: These are available in individual portions of floss, which have a yarn-like texture with stiff points on the ends. The stiff ends make this type useful for getting around dental work, like braces or implants.
- Floss Threader: A floss threader is a disposable tool that looks like a large plastic needle, and is available at any drugstore. Use any kind of floss and insert it into the loop of the threader, and pass it underneath the wire of your appliance.
- Floss Holder: These Y-shaped plastic tools hold the floss between two prongs. It can make it easier for people who have a hard time flossing.
The Proper Way to Floss
A recent American Dental Association (ADA) survey of 1,005 adults found that only 16% of participants said they floss at least once a day. To keep teeth healthy, you need to floss them every day.
It may be hard to start flossing, but trust us, once you build up the habit, it will be hard to stop! Follow these steps:
- Start with roughly 18 inches of floss. Leaving a two-inch space of floss to work with, wrap either side around your middle fingers.
- Pull the floss so it’s tight, and gently slide it up and down in the spaces between your teeth.
- Make a “C” shape and curve the floss around the base of each tooth in order to clear away plaque that may be stuck beneath the gum line. You need to be sure not to snap the floss here. Your gum tissue is delicate, and forcing floss in could cause damage.
- Use the same back and forth motion to take the floss away from between your teeth.
- As you move from tooth to tooth, adjust your floss so the space you work with is clean.