Flossing is one of the most important steps in daily oral hygiene measures, along with brushing the teeth. Even the most attentive brushing technique can only remove 60 percent of the plaque in the mouth. The areas in between teeth, called ‘interdental’ areas, are not accessible to normal brushes, including powered ones.
The main reason most people don’t floss regularly is because it can be difficult to pass the floss in the tight spaces between the teeth. Proper technique can help reduce damage to the gums and prevent tearing and shredding of the floss and help achieve proper hygiene.
The Proper Technique–
To prepare for flossing, wind one end of a 60 cm (or 2 foot) length of ribbon or Teflon floss around the ring finger of your dominant hand, anchoring this end with a second loop overlapping the first. The remaining length of floss should be wound around the ring finger of the other hand to serve as a spool of clean floss. The section of floss remaining between the two should be approximately 15 cm (6 inches) long.The middle 2-3 cm is held taut between the tips of the thumbs and the first fingers.
The first finger of your non-dominant hand should be used to brace the floss against the tooth. The floss is passed through the space between teeth. A sliding motion helps introduce the floss beneath the space without any uncontrolled motion, which helps prevent damage to the gums.
Once through the space, the floss should be wrapped around the surface of one tooth and should be moved up and down to remove the plaque. The adjacent surface of the adjoining tooth is also cleaned this way. Care should be taken to pass the floss over the gum tissue in between the teeth while changing surfaces.
The floss can be removed from the space by simultaneously pulling both ends of the floss towards the cheeks or by releasing one end and pulling the entire length from between the teeth. Each contact can be cleaned with a fresh section of floss by unwinding the floss from the spool finger and taking up the increased length by winding onto the other ring finger.
With enough practice, the entire mouth can be flossed in less than 3 minutes. Bleeding from the gums can occur even with proper flossing technique. Readers should note that bleeding is a sign of inflammation of the gums, and not the result of damage caused by flossing or brushing. The purpose of flossing is not to remove pieces of food stuck in between teeth, but rather, to remove plaque from adhering to tooth surfaces. Ask your Plano dentist for more tips regarding flossing.