Tips for flossing effectively

It was all over the news… and everyone rejoiced. Remember that day? The day that a report was released saying there is no benefit to flossing your teeth?

I vividly remember that day, because I opened up my Facebook and I had a ton of messages linking me to that article.

But, don’t throw away your waxy thread just yet! Weak evidence for flossing doesn’t necessarily mean that flossing is ineffective. It simply means there is a lack of strong evidence and that could be a flaw of the studies themselves. We want all of our patients to have a healthy mouth because as I mentioned in the previous blog, oral health has been linked to systemic and overall health. Every day at Peak Dental Arts we see first-hand that people who floss have fewer cavities, less gum disease, and better overall health in general!

There are 5 surfaces of your tooth. Our team of North Vancouver Dentists have funny terms for these surfaces that you’ve probably heard us say while completing your regular check-ups. “mesial, distal, occlusal, buccal and lingual”. But for non-dental experts, we can use the idea of a single dice. When that single dice is on the table, it has 5 visible sides. Your toothbrush is able to clean 3 of these sides: the top, the front and the back. What about the in-betweens? By that, I’m referring to the sides that are immediately touching another tooth. The only way to clean these sides with a toothbrush is if you are missing that adjacent tooth, or if you have a large space between them. That’s where flossing comes in. Flossing is a low-risk and low-cost procedure that when done well, dislodges and cleans the food and plaque stuck on the remaining two sides of the teeth.

If you’re feeling pain when you’re flossing, then you’re being a little too aggressive. The goal to effectively floss is to wrap the floss around the sides of the teeth that are hidden. Get the floss between the teeth, and remember there are TWO sides you have to clean. If you’re flossing incorrectly you can actually damage the gums.

Here are some tips for flossing effectively:

  • Use 18 inches of floss – wind the floss around your middle fingers and grasp tightly between your thumb and forefinger
  • Move the floss up and down the sides of your teeth, forming a “C” shape around the tooth
  • Floss behind your back teeth too, even though there isn’t an adjacent tooth there!
  • If you have difficulties using string floss, grab a plastic, y-shaped disposable flosser.

The recommendation of the CDA continues to be that patients brush twice a day with fluorinated toothpaste, floss or use interdental cleaning once a day, and see their dentists on a regular basis. Therefore, we recommend that you floss daily, but floss correctly! If you are still unsure how to properly floss, don’t hesitate to come in and ask us at Peak Dental!