In Oral Health

The proper flossing technique for a healthy mouth comes from using a thin piece of disposable thread. Proper flossing is vital in an effective oral hygiene regimen, protecting us from health problems that uncontrolled bacteria in the mouth can cause.

Without brushing and flossing every day and regular professional cleaning sessions, the bacteria that feed on food debris and deposits form a filmy substance called plaque, accumulating in hard-to-reach places between the teeth.

Left to flourish, the plaque can move under the gum line and into the pockets of tissue surrounding the teeth’ roots, hardening into tartar and deepening and stretching those pockets. It can also damage the bones that support the teeth, causing them to loosen (and possibly fall out), leading to gum inflammation (gingivitis) and more profound periodontitis or gum disease levels. This poses a severe threat to your oral health and has also been linked to serious diseases that can also threaten your general health.

Flossing the right way

Choose a floss or interdental device that suits you best. Although the first type that comes to mind is the original roll of waxed or unwaxed nylon strands twisted to form a thread, several other options are available. Included are monofilament floss, which doesn’t have the same tendency to unwind, and slides easily between the teeth. Then there are hand-held flossers, some ending in a plastic bow with floss stretched across it, and others that look like toothpicks with little bottle brush ends. There are also water flossers and electric ones who take over the job of moving the floss between the teeth.

Preferably floss after your night-time brushing session when you have finished eating for the day. Going to bed with a clean mouth denies the bacteria the chance of feasting all night, undisturbed by food and water intake, on any debris left in your mouth. Be gentle but thorough – a harsh or sawing action can cut or bruise the gums.

How to floss


When using traditional floss, the finger-wrap method allows you to use a clean piece of floss for working between and around each tooth without stopping to break off a new piece of floss each time. This method entails breaking off one long piece about 19 inches long and winding most of it around the middle finger of your left hand, which serves as a holding spool. Leave enough to wind a bit around the middle finger on your right hand while still enabling you to create a reasonably taught flossing tool between the fingers.

Working with the floss at a 45% angle to the one you should use when brushing your teeth, gently move it between all the teeth in turn. Holding it, so it curves slightly to cover the edges, move the floss gently up and down between the gum line and the top of the tooth a few times. Without hurting the gum, try to get the floss slightly below the gum line to remove any plaque hiding there. As you move from one tooth to the next, wind the used floss onto the middle finger of your right hand, and unwind a fresh piece from the holding spool to use on the next tooth.

Other interdental devices work similarly and should be used at a similar angle. The only difference is that they remove the need to wind a long strand of nylon around your fingers and create the flossing tool yourself.

Flossing takes only a couple of minutes every day.  But those are very important minutes when you think about the lost teeth, gum disease and health problems that could result if you don’t floss regularly. Teamed with regular professional cleanings at your local Port Coquitlam dentist, flossing can help prevent tooth loss and disease.


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