How to floss your teeth

One way to clean between teeth is with dental floss. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gum line, areas a toothbrush cannot reach. Your dentist can instruct you on proper flossing techniques. The following suggest may help:

  • Break off about 18 inches of ADA accepted floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers.
  • Wind the remaining between thumbs and forefingers, with about an inch of floss between them, leaving no slack. Use a gentle “sawing motion” to guide the flow between your teeth. Do not jerk or snap the floss into the gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you reel resistance.
  • Hold the floss against the tooth. Gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum.
  • Don’t forget the backside of your last tooth.

When flossing, establish a regular pattern. Do the top half on one side, then the other. Move to the bottom half on one side, then the other. This way you’re less likely to miss any teeth. You may experience sore or bleeding gums for the first five or six days that you floss. This should stop once the plaque is broken up and the bacteria removed. If bleeding does not stop, call your dentist. Improper flossing may be harming your gums.

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