While brushing your teeth twice per day is a necessity for good dental health, flossing is also vital. In fact, cleaning the small spaces in between your teeth to remove food particles that have become lodged there is just as important as using your toothbrush.

Why you should floss

Regularly flossing your teeth has many benefits. Firstly, dental floss assists in removing food debris that has become trapped over the course of the day. Flossing also assists in the removal of plaque, which generates acid and can cause tooth decay and cavities. Plaque can also inflame gums and even cause gum disease, so it is important to remove it properly.

How often should I floss?

Dentists recommend that you should floss daily.

Flossing correctly

It’s important to floss correctly to ensure that you can get into those hard-to-reach places and clean them well. Here are a few tips on flossing technique:

  1. Use a piece of floss approximately 45 cm (18 inches) long.
  2. Wind the floss around the middle fingers of each hand and leave about 5 cm (2 inches) in the centre.
  3. Use your fingers to guide the floss in between the spaces of each of your teeth.
  4. Glide the floss back and forth gently, ensuring that you follow the contours of the tooth.
  5. Slide the floss up and down from the base of the tooth to the surface.
  6. Ensure that you use a clean portion of the floss for each tooth.
  7. Be gentle to ensure that you don’t damage the gum tissue.

Bleeding gums

Don’t worry if your gums bleed a little during the flossing process. Bleeding gums mean that they are inflamed because plaque has built up and needs to be removed. By flossing, you are treating this problem.

Types of floss

There are a few different types of floss on the market. Most flosses are made of either nylon or Teflon and there isn’t one more effective than the other. If you have wide spaces in between your teeth or suffer from gum disease, you will benefit most from using a wide, flat dental tape. If you have small gaps between your teeth, on the other hand, a thin floss will be much more effective. The most important thing is to select a floss you feel comfortable with and one that you will actually use.