Floss is a piece of string, and you use it to clean in between your teeth, the interdental areas. There are lots of types of floss. You can get waxed or unwaxed, or you can get tapes. Essentially you need to use the floss that is best for you, and if you go to see your dentist or hygienist, they will be able to go through the different flosses and explain which one is good for you and why.
The reason why anyone needs to floss or do any interdental brushing is that you don’t have the space around your teeth for the toothbrush bristles to get in there.
So if you can get your toothbrush in between your teeth and get the bristles to go all the way through, all the way up and down, then you wouldn’t need to floss them. That’s the only reason anyone does any interdental brushing.
The technique that you can use when you floss is to open your floss, remove about six inches worth, and just snip it off at the end. Wrap it in between your fingers so that you’ve got about two inches worth of space in between your fingers.
Essentially the smaller amount of space that you have here, the better because when something’s really long, it’s hard to get it inside your mouth. So a nice small amount of floss in between, about two inches. You then slide this down in between your teeth, and you follow the contour of the tooth, so it goes underneath your gum.
You then slide it back out and remove all the debris out from in between that tooth surface. Then you go back down, and then you go down the other tooth, the adjacent tooth, follow the contour of the tooth, and then bring it back up, and then flick it out. You do this on all of your teeth. Go all the way around the mouth. And at the end of doing this, you then go over and brush your teeth, so you’re removing all that debris away from your teeth and gums.
Once you remove the debris from in between your teeth, you can move along to a fresh piece of floss so that you’re not reintroducing the same debris back into that tooth surface area. Dentists recommend that you floss at least once a day and you floss before you brush your teeth. This is so you can remove the debris away from your gums, and then it can be brushed away at the end.
When you start using floss, don’t be disheartened because you might find it’s difficult to use. You might find that you’re ripping areas, and it’s getting stuck. So if you go to your dentist or hygienist, they’ll show you the correct way to use it and how to use it in your different sort of gaps and tight areas of your teeth, as well.
Again, when you first start flossing your teeth, you might find that your gums are bleeding. Your gums are probably bleeding because they’re inflamed because you haven’t been flossing or cleaning interdentally previously. So if you floss correctly and remove the debris around your teeth, then over a period of time, your gums will start to heal and the bleeding will stop.
You can floss at all ages, so you can start quite young, so you get in the habit of flossing. Essentially as soon as you’re sort of eight or nine years old, you’ve got some adult teeth in there, you can start flossing. And you should floss your teeth all the way through to an adult. To floss your teeth, you need two teeth next to each other. So if you’ve got a tooth which is stand alone, really you don’t really need to floss that tooth because you’ve got enough access all the way around that tooth to be able to brush it well.
There are lots of different types of floss. You can use the string floss that you wrap around your fingers, and you put up and down between your teeth, or you can use preloaded floss sets, which are on a long reach, good for back teeth. Or you can use ones, which you don’t have to then use your fingers to wrap around. And again, they’re preloaded, good for your front teeth as well.
If you go to your dentist or hygienist, they’ll be able to show you which type of product is best for you. You could also use something called a water flosser. It is almost like an electric flosser. You have a tank of water that’s held within the flossing equipment, and you hold it right next to your gums, and a jet of water jets in between your teeth, and it removes all the debris and all the bits of food left next to your gums once you’re sort of moving that jet of water around your gums.
So that’s another really good way of cleaning your teeth without using all the plastics that come with the flossing and the floss sets.