3 Tips for Flossing Your Teeth

dental assistant training programStudents in the dental assistant program at the Harris School learn how to educate patients on dental health

If you have ever gone to the dentist, you have probably met a dental assistant. Dental assistants have a wide range of responsibilities, one of which may be to help patients when they have questions about oral hygiene. A common question is how to floss properly.

The American Dental Association (ADA) is a definitive source for learning about the proper way to floss. Your own dentist can help you too, by showing you techniques that work the best with your own teeth and gums, as well as how to handle flossing around any crowns or implants you may have.

Here are some of the ADA’s key recommendations, as adapted from the “Mouth Healthy” website.

How to floss: proper flossing technique

The ADA website includes a video, illustrative diagrams, and a webpage devoted to demonstrating proper flossing technique. Be sure to visit this webpage at http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing/.

Some of the ADA’s flossing instructions include:

Tip #1. Use a piece of floss that is about 18 inches long, and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Hold a small section of the floss tightly between your thumb and forefingers. As you floss, work the used floss onto the other finger, so that you are using clean floss as you move throughout your mouth.

Tip #2. Decide where in your mouth to start, and guide the floss very gently between your teeth, taking care not to snap it into the gums. Once the floss reaches the gum line, it is in position to get started.

Tip #3. Now curve the floss into a C shape that “hugs” the side of your tooth. Hold the floss tightly against that tooth, and move the floss gently up away from the gum, rubbing the tooth gently with up and down motions. Repeat this on the facing tooth. Then repeat this method throughout your entire mouth, including the back sides of your last teeth.

It’s that simple! Giving your teeth and gums the time it takes to do this simple flossing process will contribute to better dental hygiene.

If you are someone who does not floss regularly, consider some of the ADA’s tips to help you make flossing become a part of your daily routine.

Tips on Making Flossing a Regular Part of Your Daily Routine

The American Dental Association makes the following recommendations about working flossing into your daily routine:

  • Floss at least once per day, either before or after brushing.
  • If flossing hurts at first, or if your gums are bleeding, don’t give up! Keep up a regular routine of daily brushing and flossing, and the pain should stop within a week or two as your gums get healthier.
  • Experiment with different types of floss, such as waxed, unwaxed, or thicker floss. Find which kind works the best for you.
  • If flossing is too difficult for you for any reason, talk to your dentist about using other tools such as dental picks, pre-threaded flossers, or wooden plaque removers. Ask your dentist’s advice on how to use these alternatives safely so that you don’t damage your gums.
  • Children need to floss too! Help your children with flossing until they can do it well by themselves. It may take until age 10 or 11 until they have the manual dexterity to floss well.

Information from this article was gathered from the Mouth Healthy webpage published by the American Dental Association.

This article was provided by the Harris School of Business, which offers a dental assisting training program in three locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. At the Harris School, we believe that learning about dental patient education is an important part of our mission to train dental assistants for their role in a dental office.