At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we believe that when it comes to maintaining oral hygiene, brushing your teeth is just one part of the equation. Flossing is an equally essential step that often gets overlooked. Proper flossing not only removes food particles stuck between teeth but also helps prevent gum disease and cavities.

Let us delve into the art of flossing so that you can master this crucial aspect of dental care:

1. Choosing the right floss – Before you can master the flossing technique, it’s important to choose the right type of floss. There are various options available, such as waxed, unwaxed, flavoured, and even floss picks. The key is to select one that feels comfortable and effective for you. If you have tight spaces between your teeth, consider using a thinner floss, while those with wider gaps might benefit from a thicker floss. Experiment with different types to find what suits your teeth and preferences best.

2. Proper floss length – To floss effectively, you’ll need an adequate length of floss. Start with around 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around your middle fingers, leaving about 1-2 inches to work with. Using a fresh section of floss for each tooth helps prevent the spread of bacteria. This might seem like a lot of floss, but the extra length ensures you have a clean piece for each tooth, making the process more effective.

3. The flossing technique – Flossing isn’t just about removing food particles; it also plays a significant role in preventing bad breath. Bacteria can thrive in the spaces between your teeth, leading to unpleasant odours. Regular flossing helps eliminate these bacteria, contributing to fresher breath and boosting your confidence in social interactions.

Now that you have the right floss and the proper length, it’s time to master the flossing technique. Follow these steps:

  • Gentle approach: Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, and gently glide it between your teeth using a sawing motion. Avoid snapping the floss, as this could injure your gums.
  • C-Shaped curve: Once the floss is between your teeth, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Gently slide the floss up and down, making sure to go beneath the gum line. This removes plaque and debris from areas that your toothbrush might miss.

  • One tooth at a time: Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth, and unwind the used portion as you progress. Make sure to floss both sides of each tooth, including the back molars.

  • Be gentle: Flossing should never be painful. If you encounter resistance or discomfort, adjust your technique or take extra care around sensitive areas.

Remember, a little effort in flossing can go a long way in preventing dental issues and ensuring your teeth remain strong and beautiful for years to come.

4. Frequency and technique refinement – Flossing isn’t a once-in-a-while task—it’s a daily habit that contributes to your overall oral health. Aim to floss at least once a day, preferably before bedtime. As you become more adept at flossing, you’ll find your own rhythm and may discover subtle nuances that work best for you. Keep refining your technique and remain consistent in your efforts. Mastering the flossing technique takes practice and patience, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

5. Overcoming flossing challenges – Flossing might initially feel awkward or challenging, especially if you’re new to the technique. If you struggle with traditional floss, consider using floss picks or interdental brushes. These tools can make flossing more manageable and are particularly helpful for people with braces, bridges, or other dental appliances.

6. Don’t forget the back teeth – It’s easy to focus on the front teeth when flossing, but the back teeth are equally important. These areas often have more uneven surfaces that can trap food particles and bacteria. To reach your back teeth effectively, curve the floss around the sides of the last molars and move it gently up and down. Paying attention to these areas can help prevent cavities and gum issues in harder-to-reach spots.

7. Teaching proper techniques to children – Instilling good oral hygiene habits in children is crucial for their lifelong dental health. When teaching children how to floss, use age-appropriate methods. You might start with floss picks or pre-threaded flossers, which can be easier for small hands to manoeuvre. As they grow, gradually transition them to traditional floss and guide them in using the correct technique.

8. Addressing common flossing myths – There are several misconceptions about flossing that can lead to ineffective habits. One common myth is that flossing will cause gaps between your teeth to widen. In reality, proper flossing, done gently and correctly, won’t have this effect. Another myth is that bleeding gums mean you should avoid flossing. On the contrary, bleeding gums often indicate gum inflammation due to a lack of flossing. Regular flossing can help reverse this condition.

9. Be patient and persistent – Perfecting the flossing technique might take some time, especially if you’re new to the habit. At first, you might find that your gums bleed or feel sensitive. This is often a sign of inflammation caused by inadequate flossing. However, with consistent and gentle flossing, your gums should become healthier over time. Be patient with yourself and don’t give up – the benefits far outweigh the initial challenges.

10. Flossing as a family routine – Make flossing a fun and collaborative family activity. Encourage everyone in your household to floss together. By turning it into a routine, you create a supportive environment where everyone can remind and motivate each other. This approach not only reinforces good oral hygiene but also strengthens family bonds.

At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we suggest you understand that even with impeccable flossing habits, regular dental check-ups are essential. Professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can address any plaque buildup that flossing might miss. It’s also an opportunity to get personalised guidance on your oral hygiene routine, ensuring that you’re effectively caring for your teeth and gums.