Flossing Tips for a Lifetime

Young woman with dental floss.Flossing is an integral part of your dental hygiene. It removes plaque and food particles that get stuck in between your teeth and under your gums. If you don’t remove those unwanted particles, they can lead to gingivitis, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Despite it’s importance and constant dentist encouragement, many people do not floss. Perhaps it’s because flossing isn’t always easy. The string slips and slides between your fingers and cuts your gums. However, if you do it right, that doesn’t have to be the case. We’ve put together these tips to help you start a healthy and painless habit of flossing.

Choose Your Tool

You can floss using a number of tools. There’s the traditional string floss, disposable flossing picks, flossing wands, water picks, and even electric flossers. The best tool depends on what works for you, so pick up a few different kinds of flossers and experiment.

You’ll also want to choose the kind of floss you use, including flavored or unflavored. Many adults prefer the unflavored floss, because they don’t like the artificial flavors, and most kids love the flavored. There are hundreds of floss flavors, making it a fabulous way to encourage dental hygiene habits in kids.

Flossing Techniques

If you’re using string floss, pull out about 18 inches and wind it around a finger on each hand. Many people like to use the middle, but some have found that the pointer fingers are most effective. Once again, figure out what works best for you.

Pull the string tight between your fingers and gently guide it between your teeth. It’s important that you’re gentle for this part. Snapping the floss roughly between each tooth will result in cut gums.

Use a zig zag motion to gently work the floss between your teeth. Make sure you cover the entire side of your tooth. Carefully work the floss around the gumline to remove unwanted particles without cutting your gum.

Repeat with each tooth, paying special attention to your back molars, which often receive less attention when brushing. Rinse, and you’re done!

Dealing with Bleeding Gums after Flossing

Bleeding gums are most common during the first week or two of flossing when your gums are getting used to the invasive string. However, occasionally you might be a little too rough with the floss and cut yourself.

When that happens, rinse thoroughly first. Usually, there is only a little blood and you can get rid of it with water. To fortify your gums, you can also gargle a saltwater mix. The salt helps to disinfect and strengthen your gums against the irritation of the floss.

If you have serious bleeding from the gums or the slight bleeding hasn’t stopped after a couple of weeks of flossing, contact your dentist.