What are the benefits to flossing and why is it so important?

27 July · 4 minutes

Despite employing the finest toothbrushing method, certain interdental spaces remain challenging to clean thoroughly, resulting in undesirable plaque buildup. Bacteria thrive in these narrow gaps, fostering the emergence of tooth decay, gum sensitivity, frequent inflammations, periodontitis, and even bad breath.

So why is flossing important? Dental flossing is an effective remedy to combat these risks by incorporating it into your oral hygiene routine to meticulously clean those tight interdental spaces. The benefits to dental flossing between your teeth, allow you to access even the narrowest areas and effectively eliminate residues and plaque.

This article will guide you through the importance of flossing, proper utilization of dental floss, and explore available alternatives for cleaning between teeth. Uncover the best techniques to efficiently clean tight interdental spaces and maintain excellent dental hygiene using dental floss.

 A woman stands in front of the mirror with dental floss.

How to floss your teeth properly and correctly

Achieving a thorough cleaning of interdental spaces and efficient removal of plaque and food residues relies on how you use dental floss. Follow this comprehensive guide to learn how to use dental floss correctly and properly:

  1. Wind the dental floss: Take approximately 45 to 50 cm of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving a 10 cm section to work with.
  2. Hold the dental floss correctly: Grasp the free ends of the dental floss between your thumb and index finger, maintaining a distance of about 2-3 cm between them.
  3. Gently thread the dental floss: Carefully guide the interdental floss between two adjacent teeth, using a gentle up-and-down motion to navigate it into the interdental space without harming the gum.
  4. Clean the interdental space: Once the dental floss is inserted, create a C-shape around one of the teeth. Move the floss gently up and down to remove plaque and residues, ensuring you reach the gum line as well.
  5. Repeat the process: Continue moving the interdental floss to each adjacent tooth, using a fresh section of floss each time to prevent spreading bacteria and residues from one tooth to another.
  6. Rinse your mouth: After cleaning all interdental spaces, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water to eliminate any remaining residues.

Adhering to these steps in this dental floss guide will enable you to use dental floss correctly and properly, ensuring optimal cleaning of your interdental spaces. Make sure to incorporate this routine regularly, ideally once a day, for best results.

Should you floss before or after brushing your teeth?

The order of using dental floss, whether before or after brushing, is not rigidly defined. Both sequences can be equally effective as long as thorough cleaning is accomplished. The choice ultimately depends on personal preference.

How often should you floss?

The questions of how often or how many times a day you should use dental floss are very frequently asked. To effectively remove plaque and food residues from interdental spaces, it is advised to use dental floss at least once a day. Remember to be gentle yet thorough, ensuring to clean the back teeth and tight spaces as well. Consistently incorporating dental floss into your routine contributes significantly to maintaining oral health.

What are the different types of dental floss?

There are two different types of dental floss. There is waxed and unwaxed dental floss. Both waxed and unwaxed dental floss possess their own merits and drawbacks. The decision to opt for either type depends on personal preferences, specific requirements, and the condition of one’s interdental spaces. It is recommended to experiment with different types of dental floss and select the one that aligns best with your needs.

A woman uses dental floss for her teeth.

Waxed dental floss

Waxed dental floss is widely favored option for interdental cleaning. The floss is coated with a thin layer of wax, enabling effortless gliding for cleaning between teeth. Its smooth surface allows gentle passage through tight spaces, effectively eliminating plaque and food residues. Waxed floss is especially ideal for individuals with closely spaced teeth or sensitive gums, as it creates minimal friction.

Unwaxed dental floss

Unwaxed dental floss is crafted from a thin, uncoated nylon or plastic fiber. It is slightly thinner compared to the waxed version, making it easier to thread into extremely tight interdental spaces. While using unwaxed dental floss might demand a bit more dexterity and technique, as it lacks the same level of glide as waxed floss, it remains an excellent choice for individuals seeking meticulous cleaning between teeth and are comfortable with the additional friction.

Dental floss with toothbrushes and a turquoise background.

Alternatives to traditional floss

Nevertheless, several alternatives to traditional dental floss exist, offering assistance in cleaning interdental spaces. Here are some options for your consideration:

Dental floss picks vs floss

Dental floss picks, also known as flossers or floss sticks, are compact and convenient tools that come preloaded with dental floss. A dental floss pick offer ease of use and make cleaning interdental spaces a breeze. Dental floss picks can be especially beneficial for on-the-go use or for individuals who find it challenging to use traditional dental floss.

Water flosser (waterpik) vs flossing

A water flosser is a device that releases water or a mouthwash solution in a pulsating stream. Opting for a water flosser as an alternative to dental floss can be highly effective, as it flushes out plaque and debris from interdental spaces. This option is particularly advantageous for individuals with sensitive gums or those who find traditional dental floss challenging to use. However, it's crucial to keep in mind that while a waterpik water flosser is beneficial, it cannot entirely replace the comprehensive cleaning provided by dental floss.

Interdental brushes vs floss

Interdental brushes are compact brushes tailored for cleaning interdental spaces. Available in various sizes, they can prove more effective than dental floss, particularly for larger gaps. Interdental brushes are a great alternative if you face challenges in using traditional dental floss or if your interdental spaces are wider.

When contemplating dental floss vs interdental brushes, it's crucial to consider your individual needs and preferences. An excellent approach is to experiment with both options to determine which one suits you best.

Dental floss for orthodontics: braces & permanent retainers vs aligners & removable retainers

Orthodontic treatment can impact the use of dental floss based on the type of appliance. Fixed appliances like braces or permanent retainers necessitate special dental floss. Flossing between teeth and along the gumline becomes more challenging due to the presence of non-removable wires. However, employing the right technique and suitable flossing tools enables effective teeth cleaning even with these appliances.

Conversely, removable appliances such as aligners or removable retainers make dental floss usage more straightforward. As these appliances can be easily taken out, individuals undergoing orthodontic treatment can employ dental floss as usual. This simplifies access to interdental spaces, making plaque and food residue removal more manageable.

Maintaining consistent oral hygiene throughout orthodontic treatment is of utmost importance. For specific guidance on using dental floss with braces, retainers, or aligners, it's essential to consult with your orthodontist. They can provide personalized advice and recommendations to ensure optimal dental care during the treatment process.

Impress aligners enable improved oral hygiene when using dental floss

Our aligners offer a fantastic alternative for teeth correction, granting you the chance to uphold and enhance your oral hygiene routine. Unlike traditional orthodontic appliances, aligners are removable, enabling regular brushing and dental floss usage as usual. This ensures that you can continue practicing excellent oral hygiene habits, promoting the health of your teeth and gums throughout the aligner treatment.

Visit an Impress clinic near you today to consult with one of our expert doctors about orthodontic treatment. Book your appointment now. Feel free to give us a call and we can assist you further.

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Dental Floss FAQs

What to do when your gums bleed when flossing?

If you experience gum bleeding while using dental floss, consider the following steps: Review your flossing technique and the pressure applied, ensure a gentle and cautious motion, and if the bleeding persists, seek advice from your dentist.

What are the effects of not flossing?

The effects of not flossing can result in food particles and plaque buildup between teeth, potentially leading to tooth decay, gum disease, and gum bleeding. Incorporating dental floss into your routine helps prevent these problems and ensures optimal oral health.

What is dental floss made of?

Dental floss consists of thin threads or ribbons made from plastic or nylon, specifically designed to eliminate plaque and food particles from between the teeth.

When should you use dental floss?

For effective plaque and food particle removal and to uphold oral hygiene, it is advised to use dental floss at least once a day.

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