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What is the proper way to floss?

Proper way to floss in Warrenton VirginiaMany people who are seeking a dental office in Warrenton, VA have questions about the proper way to floss.  Read below to get Dr Harris' rundown on how to use floss correctly.

Flossing is an essential component in oral hygiene regime. Everybody ought to floss in addition to your daily brushing of teeth. By flossing daily, you remove plaque between your teeth where the toothbrush alone is unable to reach. This habit is crucial as plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into tartar. Flossing also helps prevent cavities and gum disease. Bleeding is an excellent indicator (unless you are a smoker) of inflammation which is mainly caused by bacteria.

Floss that is commercially available comes in two forms:

(1) Nylon (multifilament) floss. This floss is made up of many strands of nylon fabric, making this stringy and possible to break apart.Nylon floss comes in waxed and unwaxed.

(2) PTFE (monofilament) floss. This floss can be made up of a single strand or thread and glides in between even the tightest of spaces.

Many people are flossing with the wrong technique and hence are not achieving the maximum results. Here we will look at the method that works best. 

Position the floss on the fingertips as much as possible, with enough floss between the two fingers to "saw" it back and forth roughly about 5-6mm (1/4").  Usually, we would wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

Do not exert much pressure downwards, instead, focus on the "sawing motion".  Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss in a push-pull motion and up and down while at the same time applying pressure against the side of each tooth. This action will flatten and thin the floss so that it slides down between the teeth smoothly.  After that, rub the floss against both surfaces a few times and with the same sawing motion to remove the floss.  Be careful not to snap the floss up and down, as it makes it very hard and can damage the gums.  

Everyone is different but have common areas where the sides of teeth are concave and not convex:

- Mesial of 1st bicuspid (the side closest to the two front teeth)

- Your lower incisors

- Your Upper first molar

In these areas mentioned, you are better off using something like a Proxabrush or Gum Soft-Pik, or better still a Waterpik.  Those tools work very well for the elderly and those with decreased dexterity with their fingers. Modern tools like these will aid your flossing to be much more effective and efficient.

For starters, the dentist would recommend once a week going in between teeth with an unwaxed piece of floss and notice if your gums bleed. Once you get the hand of properly flossing your teeth, you can consider increasing the frequency to 2 or 3 times per day.

If you have additional questions about flossing or other dental concerns, please don't hesitate to contact your Warrenton dental office, Dr. Jeffrey Harris. 

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