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How to Floss

The most significant impediment to flossing has typically been the floss. It breaks, shreds, and gets stuck. Other than Wild Flossers, Glide is the only floss I recommend.

How often to floss? We all heard to floss once a day, but the bacteria are growing between teeth just like those areas you brush - would you brush only once a day? Ideally, flossing is most effective when done at the same frequency as brushing. So, if you brush, floss too! At the very minimum, floss the lower front teeth every brushing (this is where tartar typically forms most).

These are the same directions that are on floss packaging, which unfortunately is discarded.

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers.
  • Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it collects plaque or shreds.
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle back and forth rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently move the floss away from the gum with up and down motions to clean above and below the gumline.
  • Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don't forget the back side of your last tooth.

Don't forget about brushing.

People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use aids that include floss holders, special brushes, picks or sticks. Additionally, a Waterpik can be very helpful. It does not replace flossing, but it is much better than not flossing. For many people, both flossing and a Waterpik are indicated.

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Wild Flossers

If adults had picked up the flossing habit in childhood, perhaps more people would be following their dentists' and hygienists' recommendation. These dinosaur shaped dental flossers are designed to encourage kids to develop early flossing habits. They are fun, easy to use and oversized to minimize the risk of accidental choking. Though disposable, the product is very thin to minimize the amount of plastic used.

In addition to making flossing easier for children 6 and up, Wild Flossers make flossing easier to do for younger children. Kids teeth and gums benefit from flossing just as much as adults.

Cheaper imitations exist (cheap floss that shreds and breaks easily), and are not nearly as easy to use. As with most tools, when they are more difficult to use, they go unused.

These are great for adults too!

Flossing Technique

Proper flossing removes  plaque  and food particles from places where a toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing daily is highly recommended.

To receive utmost benefits from flossing, follow the proper technique:

  • Take around 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
  • Holding the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth
  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
  • Use fresh sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
  • To take out the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth