Flossing is an incredibly important part of a good oral hygiene routine. Unfortunately, it is also a step that many people neglect. There are many reasons that people choose not to floss, but one of the most common is that they simply don’t understand how to use dental floss properly.

If not fully understanding how to use floss is holding you back from integrating it in your oral hygiene routine, keep reading below. We will go over why flossing is important, what might happen if you don’t do it, and, of course, how to use floss properly.

Why is it so important to use floss?

Every time you eat, food is broken down in your mouth, which creates an environment for bacteria to accumulate on the exterior of your teeth. That bacteria, combined with any food that may get stuck in or between your teeth, can develop into larger colonies of bacteria called plaque, if left on your teeth long enough. When this plaque hardens, it turns into tartar. Plaque, tartar, and food particles are what build up on your teeth and potentially cause tooth decay and cavities.

Although brushing removes most of the plaque and other bacteria from your teeth, there are many crevices and areas of your teeth that your toothbrush simply cannot reach. This is where flossing comes in! Floss goes in between your teeth and removes the bacteria and food particles that have become stuck there. This ensures a deeper clean, and helps to better prevent tooth decay. Removing more plaque prevents the buildup of tartar, and therefore reduces your risk of cavities and other oral health issues.

How to Use Floss Properly

If you are using traditional dental floss, start by breaking off about 15-20 inches of floss. This might seem like a lot, but having a little bit of slack so you can wrap it around your fingers and adjust the floss when areas get weak is important.

Once you have your piece of floss, wrap either end of the floss around your middle fingers and leave about 2 inches of floss in between. Then, use your thumbs to keep the line of floss firm and tight.

Next, gently press the floss between two of your teeth. You may feel some resistance as you press the floss between your teeth. Try to gently glide the floss back and forth to get it in between your teeth, rather than pressing firmly and forcing it down. Pushing too hard could cause damage and cause you pain.

Once you have the floss between your teeth, gently move the floss back and forth around the base of your gums and up the walls of each tooth. When you are working around the base of your tooth, bend the floss into a “C” shape. This helps you to get a little deeper in the gum line.

Repeat this process for each tooth, no matter how hard it might be to get your fingers to the back of your mouth. Don’t forget the outsides of the teeth furthest back in your mouth, either! Each time you finish a particular cavity, you can wipe off the plaque. You can also adjust the floss by unwinding it from your fingers so you have new pieces as you move through each of your teeth.

A Well-Rounded Oral Hygiene Routine

Chances are you already brush your teeth twice a day, but now you know how important flossing is in creating a well-rounded oral hygiene routine. While brushing addresses the exterior of your teeth and removes the plaque from most of the surfaces, using floss helps to clean out the crevices that your toothbrush can’t reach.

With these tips, you should be ready to confidently add flossing to your daily oral hygiene routine! Next time you visit your family dentist let them know that you’ve added flossing to your oral hygiene routine.