When & How to Properly use Dental Floss
Your toothbrush only cleans 3 of the 5 surfaces on your teeth, leaving the 2 surfaces between the teeth ignored. Dental plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. It must be removed regularly, or it can cause damaging gum inflammation, cavities, and bad breath.
Cleaning between your teeth, also known as interdental cleaning, is important because it cleans where a regular toothbrush simply cannot reach. It might not be FUN, but it is too important to your oral health to ignore!
When it is recommended to use dental floss:
- Gum tissue fills the area between the teeth. When you have healthy teeth and gums, there are less grooves and depressions of the natural tooth exposed. This means floss can adequately reach the interproximal surfaces and do a sufficient job at disrupting the plaque.
- Good dexterity. Flossing requires moving your hands inside your mouth and ensuring the floss reaches the right spots without harming your gums. It takes skill to make these small movements.
- Ability to open and get hands inside the mouth. If you have large or shaky hands, this can make flossing a struggle. You need to be able to adequately open and reach all areas.
- Ability to complete the skill of flossing. Flossing is technique sensitive and takes time. The effectiveness relies on you reaching every spot. Below are more directions on using string floss.
- High motivation. The skill of flossing takes time to master, so you must be highly motivated. If you are rushed, your technique may be comprised. This could lead to using floss incorrectly, which could be less efficacious or harm your gums.
There are other options for cleaning between the teeth like floss aids, interdental brushes, or water flossers. For example, if the technique with string floss is too difficult to master, you could use a floss aid, like the TePe GOOD Mini Flosser™. If you have gum disease with bone loss, an interdental brush may be a better option to reach all the surfaces of the tooth.
How to properly use string floss:
- Use about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger on the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as you move along.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index finger.
- Insert the floss between two teeth in a horizontal back-and-forth movement until you feel that you are under the contact area. Never snap the floss between the teeth.
- Then wrap the floss in a C shape against each tooth surface, holding it tightly against the tooth.
- Move the floss in an up-and-down motion, following the shape of the tooth, to remove the plaque between the teeth. Use a fresh piece of floss to clean between each tooth.
Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. It is best to complete this in a systematic approach and looking in a mirror can assure that you are completing the technique correctly.
TePe Options for Floss
TePe GOOD Mini Flosser™ is a preloaded floss holder with a unique bite plane to gently insert the floss between teeth. It is made from bio-based plastic and wood fibers.
TePe® Bridge and Implant Floss is a spongy floss with two stiff plastic ends. This floss is ideal for daily cleaning of implants, bridges, and braces. It is also suitable for periodontal care.
TePe® Dental Tape is a wide, flat, and natural beeswax floss to glide easily between teeth without shredding.
TePe® Dental Floss is an expanding and strong dental floss that efficiently and gently removes plaque between teeth.