Dental Flossing For Oral Health

Dental flossing is recommended as part of your daily oral hygiene as it removes food particles and plaque from between and around your teeth. This improves the health of your gums and reduces the risk of you getting gum disease. If plaque is allowed to build up, the bacteria can cause irritation and swelling which, if left untreated causes gum disease.

Dental floss is made from soft, thin nylon or plastic threads. There is also dental tape which is slightly thicker. You should always follow the instructions for use or your dentist’s instructions, as if used incorrectly, you could damage your gums. If you find that flossing is painful on your gums or, your gums are sore and bleeding afterwards, you may be flossing incorrectly!

Using Dental Floss

A general guide for using dental floss is:

  1. Take a long length of dental floss and wind each end around your middle finger of each hand.
  2. Continue to wind the floss around the fingers until when pulled tightly the floss between each hand is around 3cm to 5cm long.
  3. With the floss pulled tightly slide it between two teeth and guide it up and down against the surface of the teeth and below the gumline.
  4. Continue this process around the mouth moving methodically from one pair of teeth to the next.
  5. A clean piece of floss can be used for each gap by unwinding a little floss from one hand and winding the used floss to the other.

It is possible that for the first few times of flossing your gums may bleed slightly. As the plaque is removed and your gums become healthier this will reduce but, if bleeding continues regularly after a few weeks you should consult your dentist.

Flossing is difficult and takes a lot of practice. Please ask your dentist to show you the correct flossing technique.

Some people find floss difficult to hold but you can buy floss holders from your local pharmacist. These floss holders are also known as “flossers”, “flossets” and “floss wands”.If you find gripping the floss difficult, you could try using a floss holder. An alternative to flossing is interdental brushes which come in various sizes and are easy to use.