Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Dental Floss
Of all of the tools used to better dental and oral hygiene, dental floss has to be the strangest one. Some of the tools that we use look complicated or even, maybe, intimidating—we’re looking at you, Bluetooth-enabled, lightshow-displaying, audio-capable toothbrushes. But it’s the simplicity of dental floss that makes it so odd. It is, after all, just a string. Or is it?
There’s a lot more that goes into dental floss and how to properly use it than meets the eye… or tooth. There are a few different types of floss—and more flavours than your average spice cabinet can hold. There are even flossers that aren’t flossers at all. Try to “unspool” that riddle.
All of those different types of floss aren’t just for stocking pharmacy shelves, however. Twice daily flossing is one of the most important parts of any oral and dental hygiene routine.
Using the right floss with the right technique can more effectively remove food particles and plaque and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. And, of course, there’s nothing quite like the confidence that comes from a freshly-flossed smile. You can flash your pearly whites all around town without fear, safe in the knowledge that your spinach salad won’t be making a repeat appearance.
Follow this “thread” to learn everything about dental floss that you’ve ever wanted to know.
Types of Floss
No two people have the exact same mouth and the differences go far beyond their taste buds. It stands to reason, then, that the different types of dental floss go far beyond “peppermint” or “spearmint”.
Everyone has different interdental spacing, gum and teeth sensitivity, and flossing habits. As such, everyone will have their own preference when it comes to types of floss.
String floss is the most common type of floss and will work wonders for most people and their smiles. Even so, not all string floss is the same.
Multifilament floss—or nylon floss—is the most prevalent type of floss. It is comprised of many strands of nylon and comes in waxed and unwaxed varieties. For those with tight interdental spacing, multifilament floss can shred and tear as the strands of nylon detach from one another.
Alternatively, there’s monofilament floss. As the name suggests, this type of floss is comprised of a single strand. Because it won’t shred, monofilament floss is better at getting into tight spaces—i.e., tight interdental spacing—though it is, generally speaking, more expensive.
It’s never really clear exactly how much floss you really need. And trying to unspool dental floss can make you feel like a cat with a ball of yarn. Fortunately, for exactly these problems, we have floss picks. These handy little tools consist of a piece of floss held taught between two prongs and a toothpick at the end of their handle.
Floss picks usually come in large packs as they are disposable, single-use products. However, because they are rigid, they can reduce maneuverability within the mouth.
Have you solved the riddle of the flossers that aren’t actually flossers yet? You guessed it! Water flossers.
These ingenious devices look very much more like those fancy electric toothbrushes with Bluetooth, light displays, and speakers. But they are, in fact, designed for interdental cleaning. They consist of a motor, a water reservoir, and a “flossing” tip. Water flossers create a powerful and pulsating water “jet” that loosens food debris in between teeth and in the gum line and removes plaque. You can think of them like the jets in a hot tub… but for your teeth and gums.
Water flossers can be a great alternative for people with sensitive gums and teeth or for people with braces. Similarly, “air flossers” are another type of electric flosser that employ a similar technique.
The American Dental Association has approved some water flossers for use though it is worth mentioning that you should consult your dentist before switching to a water flosser.
How to Floss Your Teeth Like a Dentist
Using the right flossing technique can be just as important as using the right type of floss. Learning to floss like a dentist can make you smile like a movie star.
- Get the Right Amount. You’ll want to start by unspooling just the right amount of floss. For most people and in most circumstances, 18-24inches will suffice.
- Get the Right Grip. A successful floss starts with the right grip. Tightly—but not too tightly—wrap most of the floss around one finger on your predominant hand and just enough to hold a loop around a finger on your other hand. Leave approximately 2inches of floss in between. The finger on your predominant hand will serve as the “feeder” for fresh floss while the finger on your other hand will serve as a “receiver” for used floss.
- Get the Right Angle. Camera angles aren’t the only angles that matter in getting an Instagram-worthy smile. Gently work the 2inches of floss in between two teeth using a “rubbing” motion. Once the floss has reached the gum line, curve it into a C-shape around one tooth and slowly but firmly continue the rubbing motion. Continue that motion, working between the gum line and the top of the crown, until you have removed all food debris and plaque.
- Rinse. Recycle. Repeat that same technique for each tooth, using a new 2inch section of floss for each tooth. And don’t forget to the back side of your last molar! You should follow up your dentist-approved flossing technique with a two-minute brush or, if you have already brushed your teeth, a warm water rinse. It’s always best to floss before you brush, however, as brushing will remove the loosened food debris.
Now that you know everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dental floss, you can floss like a pro. But don’t forget that flossing is just one part of an effective oral health and hygiene routine. Nevertheless, flossing twice a day before your two-minute brush will make a marked improvement in your smile. Book your appointment with Dawson Dental today and show us your flawless flossing technique!