Keeping your teeth and gums clean by removing plaque bacteria is the best way to protect against gum disease, however it is difficult to reach the spaces in between your teeth by brushing alone. Dental floss or tape can help you to remove plaque build up from between your teeth and below the gum line (where your tooth meets the gum).
While interdental brushes can be very effective at keeping those hard to reach spaces clean, sometimes the gaps between your teeth are too small to fit a brush in, which is why floss is a great alternative.
HOW TO FLOSS
When it comes to flossing teeth effectively, using the correct technique is vital. Here’s our simple guide to help show you how to floss properly:
- Always be gentle, if you floss too aggressively you could damage your gums.
- Break off around 45cm of floss and wind the ends around one finger of each hand.
- Hold the floss gently between your thumbs and forefingers, with around 2.5cm held taut between them.
- Use a gentle rocking motion to insert the floss between your teeth.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against the tooth.
- Hold the floss against the side of the tooth and gently scrape the floss upwards away from the gum, repeat on the other side of the gap on the edge of the next tooth. Do not snap or saw the floss.
- Don’t forget the back of your last tooth.
- Keep to a regular rhythm to ensure you don’t miss any teeth out.
If you aren’t sure about how to floss correctly ask your dentist or hygienist to show you the right technique.
At first you may see bleeding when flossing, this should clear up quickly, but if you are still seeing blood when you floss after a few days it could be a sign that you have gum disease. It is important to discuss this with your dentist, who can check the health of your gums and advise you on how to put a stop to gum disease.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU FLOSS?
Many people are unsure of how often you should floss, or whether you should floss before or after brushing. From the age of 12 you should use interdental brushes or floss to clean between your teeth once a day before brushing.