How to Floss Your Teeth

by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)

Want to avoid gum disease and bad breath? Follow your dentist's advice, floss at least once a day and you can avoid an unpleasant build up of food and bacteria that can cause both. Despite the benefits of flossing, the American Dental Association reports that only twelve percent of Americans floss daily. Why do so few people avoid flossing? Believe it or not, many people struggle with which dental floss to purchase, how to floss and how to motivate their children to floss.

Purchasing dental floss when faced with such a vast array of choices offered at the store can be difficult. Dentists recommend purchasing floss that is not waxed to ensure that all food particles are removed. For those who struggle holding on to the ends of the floss while flossing there are a variety of floss wands available in all shapes and colors; there are two particular shapes available, "y" wands and "f" wands, they are equally useful. If you are still weary of flossing, you have the option of purchasing a vibrating floss wand that allows for easier access to the gumline without as much pressure.

After you have purchased the perfect dental floss, it's time to get started! It is best to floss prior to brushing your teeth so that any "leftovers" can be brushed away. It is important to floss correctly so you do not cause damage to your teeth or gum tissue. Hold the floss in a "c" shape around your teeth and slide up and down two or three times, touching the gumline each time. You may find that your floss slides off your fingers as you are flossing, it is best to wrap the floss around each finger several times to secure it and floss effectively.

If you have avoided flossing for a while your may discover that your gums bleed; this is a sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is simply an inflammation of the gums due to bacteria. There is nothing to be alarmed about if your gums bleed slightly the first couple of times you floss. If your gums persist in bleeding you should contact your dentist and be prepared to answer questions regarding how long the bleeding has persisted.

Parents can help encourage their children to floss by purchasing themed wands and flavored floss that will appeal to them. Flossing with them regularly will encourage them to make it a permanent habit.

No matter which dental floss or method you choose, just be sure to do it once daily, your teeth and your friends will thank you.

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