How to Floss Efficiently

Diagram of flossing techniques
Flossing with a “C” shape ensures you are thoroughly cleaning the sides of your teeth.

If you come see us regularly, you have undoubtedly been advised to include flossing in your dental hygiene routine. It is easy to forget about flossing because brushing your teeth is where you typically feel the most productive. Is it really necessary to floss every single day?

The answer, I’m afraid, is a resounding yes! Flossing is responsible for almost half of the work of attacking bacteria. Even if you brush twice daily, you are only removing a little over half of the bacteria on your teeth. Flossing reaches surfaces that a toothbrush cannot, so neglecting this step carries serious consequences. Did you know that allowing bacteria to build up on your gums can start the process of facial bone loss? Periodontitis damages the actual jawbone, and this can begin by not flossing. Along with cavities and gum disease can also come halitosis, yellow teeth, and tooth loss.

None of us want to deal with any of these dental issues, so how do we floss most efficiently to ensure that we’re removing all of the bacteria?

Which type of floss should I use?

First, there are different types of floss you can choose from: nylon, which has multiple strands, and PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) which is a single strand. The former is cheaper and can break apart easier, but it is still effective. PTFE is pricier, but if your teeth are very close together and you don’t want to deal with your floss tearing, this option might be for you. You can also choose between waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, or even a floss pick (easier to maneuver and great for braces). The different types are a matter of preference in regards to ease of use.

The most important thing is that you are flossing, regardless of what kind you use or when you do it. Whether you floss before or after brushing does not affect how thoroughly your teeth get cleaned.

A few quick tips for flossing efficiently

So is there an efficient way to floss? As self-explanatory as it seems to be, there are some tips that will maximize your time spent flossing:

  1. Tear off a piece of floss that is 12-18″ inches long and wrap it around your middle fingers.
  2. Move the floss up and down between your teeth, as well as back and forth, and try to go in a “C” pattern around your gums, being cautious not to damage the sensitive gum tissue.
  3. Move to a new section of floss as you go between teeth.

Flossing efficiently should only take one minute, but in the beginning it may take longer as you get used to cleaning around each tooth. If you include the recommended two minutes of brushing your teeth twice daily, you can prevent cavities, gum disease, and a host of other dental woes by investing just five minutes daily toward your oral health.