Master The Fine Art Of Flossing

Posted on Dec 08, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you don’t know how to ice skate, watching someone who does can be mesmerizing. Seeing a skater glide easily across the ice on a thin blade, turning and shifting with seemingly little effort, makes one rather envious.

When I try to urge a patient who has never flossed to do so, and to do it every day, I used to be so perplexed at their resistance. “Wonder why this is such a big deal?” I’d think. Yet, to me flossing is as natural a motion as gliding across the ice is to an ice skater.

As a periodontist, I’m naturally a proponent of flossing as a valuable aid in removing food particles and bacteria buildup from the mouth. Flossing dislodges bits of food stuck between teeth and scrapes the edges where a tooth brush has difficulty reaching.

People who floss on a daily basis require only a minute or so. Many don’t need a mirror since they can ‘feel’ their way along. Some floss while watching television, reading or catching up on emails. However, be prepared to rely on a mirror until you’ve mastered the technique. The point is, flossing, once a habit, can be a simple action that blends easily into one’s day.

Flossing is best done with about 18 inches of floss. We recommend unwaxed but people with tight teeth find waxed helps them to avoid having the floss ‘pop’ between teeth and cut into tender gum tissues. Wrap both ends of the floss around the forefingers. You’ll use your thumbs and middle fingers to help maneuver the floss.

The key to flossing is to slowly move it back and forth teeth to get in-between and then scrape down each tooth’s side several times. Move the floss just slightly below the line where teeth meet gum tissues to dislodge bacteria at the base of teeth. Adjust the floss so you have a clean section after flossing every 3-4 teeth. Be sure to scrape the backs of molars (or the farthest back teeth) on top and bottom.

For those who try to floss and find it too difficult, we recommend purchasing one of the electronic flossers on the market today. These are effective and do a good job at removing debris and oral bacteria from the mouth. If you can’t handle traditional floss, these are the next best thing.

Flossing helps to lower oral bacteria that can accumulate and lead to cavities, gum disease and eventual tooth loss. This can save you treatment time and expense. Another incentive is (drum roll) you’ll be so much more comfortable during your dental cleanings! Healthy gums are not as sensitive and gum probing and any scraping needed will be an easy process for you!

Make a commitment to be a flosser! Add daily flossing to your New Year’s Resolutions. You’ll be rewarded with a healthier mouth and possibly prevent costly problems.

Begin the new year with a clean mouth by calling 828-274-9440 to arrange an examination and cleaning. Our Hygienist will be happy to give you flossing instructions while we get your mouth to a healthy state.

Recent Posts