19 Sep When Is the Best Time to Floss Your Teeth?
There are many things we do in an order, such as putting on your pants before your shoes. But what about flossing our teeth? Does it make a difference if you floss before or after brushing? In the morning or at night? We have the answer along with tips for a beneficial dental care routine.
When Should You Floss?
The Oral Health Foundation recommends flossing before brushing to loosen food particles from teeth, allowing the toothbrush to work more effectively. But the general rule among dentists and dental organizations is simply this: floss your teeth daily.
Flossing before or after brushing is less important than making sure you floss. A toothbrush is effective at removing about 60% of plaque from the tooth’s surface. The remaining 40% is the narrow space between teeth where the thicker bristles of a toothbrush will not reach. Together, a toothbrush and dental floss serve as the dynamic duo for removing food and plaque from teeth.
Types of Flossing Products
Standard Floss – made of thin nylon threads twisted together for strength, floss comes in plain and flavored, and waxed and unwaxed. Choose waxed for easier flossing between teeth that are crowded together.
Floss Tape – also made of nylon strands, floss tape is a thicker, broader version of floss used for effective cleaning between larger gaps in teeth.
Super Floss – for braces and other mouth fixtures. A precut product, super floss has a soft end and a hard end which makes it easier to get underneath braces for flossing.
Floss Picks – small and convenient, floss picks are great on-the-go. Great in purses, briefcases, travel bags, and desk drawers for that moment when you have something stuck between your teeth.
Interdental Brush – with small-bristled heads, an interdental brush is designed to clean between your teeth. Available in different widths, it’s available in most mass retail and drugstores.
Water Flossers – through a small handheld attachment, a jet stream of water is sprayed to remove food from teeth and remove plaque from the tooth’s surface. A water flosser is a great alternative for persons with braces.
Techniques for Flossing
Now that you are an expert on flossing products, let’s talk about how to get the best results using dental floss. Follow these steps for ultimate cleaning between teeth:
- Unspool the floss 18 to 24-inches in length.
- Wrap each end of the floss 1-2 times around your left and right middle finger.
- Hold the floss taut with your index (pointer) finger and thumb.
- Gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing, back-and-forth type motion.
- At the base of the gum, use the same gentle motion to work your way back up.
- Use a clean section of the floss for each tooth, following steps 1-5.
- Always throw away your floss once done – never reuse.
If you have not flossed your teeth in a while, you may experience light bleeding of the gums. This is normal and temporary and should go away with daily flossing.
Follow a 2 x 2 dental care routine: brush 2 times per day for 2 minutes each time. Floss once per day, preferably in the evening. Schedule twice annual cleanings and a checkup with your dentist to ensure the health of your mouth above and below the gumline.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”