Flossing is essentially the process of removing plaque and food deposits that accumulate between the teeth and under the gum line. These deposits cannot be easily reached by a toothbrush and tend to build-up if flossing is not done on a daily basis. Flossing is recommended as part of a holistic oral hygiene routine and should ideally be done every night before brushing your teeth. The effects of not flossing include tooth decay and gum disease.
Types of Dental Floss
Nylon (or multifilament) floss is available in both waxed and unwaxed forms. Waxed floss is available in a variety of flavours and tends to break less due to the coating around the nylon strands. Due to the thickness, this type of floss may be difficult to insert between smaller dental spaces, unlike unwaxed floss which consists of thin nylon strands but tends to break easily.
PTFE (monofilament) floss is generally more expensive but slides easily between tight dental spaces. Breakage of this type of floss is uncommon.
Super floss is recommended for removal of plaque around appliances such as bridges, braces and implants. The plastic thread that is attached to the floss allows for easy insertion where required.
A floss pick refers to a thread of floss that is attached to a plastic handle. Due to the ease of use, this type of floss is recommended for children, but can be used regardless of age if flossing with regular floss is a challenge.
How to Floss Correctly
Starting with about 30cm of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving about 5cm of floss to work with, as demonstrated in the image below:
Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure to go beneath the gumline while maintaining a gentle up-and-down motion. Never snap or force the floss between the teeth, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue. Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
To remove the floss, use a back-and-forth motion to glide the floss between and away from the teeth.