Are You Flossing Properly?

Aug 01, 2023
Are You Flossing Properly?
Good oral hygiene habits can prevent cavities and gum disease today — and help you keep all your natural teeth as you age. Unfortunately, when it comes to proper flossing, many people fall short. Here’s how to improve your flossing ritual.

A healthy adult mouth has 32 permanent teeth. In the United States, adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have an average of 25.5 natural remaining teeth; adults 65 and older have an average of 20.7 remaining teeth. About one in six seniors has lost all their teeth.

While these statistics may be alarming, we have good news: Tooth loss isn’t a natural or inevitable part of aging; it’s a problem you can readily prevent with good daily oral hygiene habits and twice-yearly dental cleanings and exams.

That’s right: Brushing and flossing each day as recommended doesn’t just keep your mouth healthy today; it also helps you keep all your natural teeth as you age.

At Vida Dental Spa in Whitestone, New York, Dr. Maria-Teresa Ioannou and our team know that with your oral health, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. Sometimes, people fall short when it comes to proper flossing. Here’s how to up your flossing game. 

Oral hygiene is a two-part equation

Taking good care of your oral health means brushing your teeth thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive, fluoridated toothpaste at least twice daily: once in the morning and the evening before sleeping. 

Opting to brush after your mid-day meal can also be helpful if you’re prone to cavities. Each brushing session should last for two minutes as you clean the inner, outer, and chew surfaces of each tooth. 

But daily brushing is just one-half of the oral health equation. Taking good care of your mouth also means flossing at least once a day to clear away food particles and residues between your teeth — the ones your toothbrush can’t reach and remove. Flossing twice daily is even better.

With this two-part daily oral hygiene equation, you can minimize the accumulation of dental plaque on the tooth enamel and gum tissue you can see — as well as the nooks and crannies between your teeth and below your gumline that you can’t see.

Our step-by-step guide to flossing 

Daily plaque removal is the best way to prevent cavities and gum disease, and proper flossing is the only way to ensure the job is complete. Luckily, flossing isn’t too difficult — you can do it in four simple steps:

Step one

Break off a piece of dental floss about 16-20 inches long. Wind either end around each of your middle fingers, leaving one or two inches of floss in between to work with. 

Step two

Holding the floss taut with your thumbs and index fingers, carefully guide it between two teeth, gently gliding it up and down to rub it against the sides of each tooth. Be careful not to push it down into your gums. 

Step three

As the floss nears your gums, curve it into a C-shape. With the floss curved and pressed tight against the base of your tooth, glide it gently up and down the tooth and root surface, going just under the gumline (don’t force the floss to go further than it naturally goes). Repeat the process on the other side of the tooth. 

Step four

After using the same back-and-forth gliding motion to bring the floss out of the space between your teeth, unwind a new, clean section of floss between your fingers and move on to the next tooth. Repeat the process, using clean sections of floss as you go, until you’ve cleaned in between and below the gumline of all your teeth (including the four teeth in the back corners of your mouth on the back side). 

A note on timing

We recommend flossing before you brush so your brush helps clear away the particles you’ve lifted from between your teeth and below the gum line. If you prefer to floss after brushing, be sure to rinse your mouth well afterward. 

Ready for an oral hygiene review?

When we clean and examine your teeth every six months, we can tell a lot about your daily oral hygiene habits (including if the only time you’ve flossed was right before your visit). We can see where you may apply too much pressure while brushing and which areas don’t always get cleaned as thoroughly. 

With this routine oral hygiene review, we can give you the specific advice you need to improve your brushing and flossing skills and improve your oral hygiene. And we’re always happy to demonstrate proper flossing techniques and give you helpful pointers.

Do you have questions about flossing? We have answers. Call or click online to schedule a visit with Dr. Ioannou at Vida Dental Spa in Whitestone, New York, today.