How to Floss Properly

Your dentist tells you that you need to floss, and it may sound easy enough, but did you know that many people are flossing incorrectly? If you have never asked your dentist for proper instruction on flossing, or you are one of the millions of Americans who does not floss daily, here are some instructions on proper flossing form. If you don’t floss, it could cause some dental problems that most people simply do not want to face, and if you floss incorrectly, you’re just wasting time. The good news is that there is help. The following steps will walk you through the correct and proper way to floss your teeth each day.

  1. The first thing to remember is that you should floss at least once every day, twice if you can (morning and night when you brush your teeth). If you have something stuck between your teeth, it is a good idea to floss immediately to remove it rather than waiting.
  2. Use about 18 inches of floss, which for an average person will stretch from your fingertips to about your elbow. Starting on one end of the floss, wrap it around each of your middle fingers, with about an inch or two of floss running between the two middle fingers. Pull the floss taut with your index fingers and thumbs on each hand.
  3. Gently slide the floss up, back and forth between each of your teeth. Be sure to follow the curve of each tooth, extending the floss beneath the gum line. This will pull out any food or buildup that may be caught underneath. Be careful not to force the floss or snap it against your gums, as this can cause pain or even bleeding. Just keep it gentle and smooth at all times.
  4. As you move to the next tooth, unwind the floss from one middle finger, and wrap the used portion of floss around the other middle finger. This ensures that a clean section of floss is used each time.
  5. When removing the floss from between the teeth, gently slide it back and forth while pulling it down and out from between the teeth.

If you have not flossed in quite a while, the first couple of times you floss it may cause a small amount of bleeding or pain in your gums. If the bleeding or pain is excessive, be sure to contact your dentist before you continue. If you remember to floss daily, the pain and bleeding should subside within a few days. There are two main types of floss to choose from: nylon waxed and wide polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Studies have shown that both of these types of floss are equally effective at removing plaque, food particles, and bacteria from teeth and gums. Interestingly, a recent study found that 75 percent of adults indicated a preference for PTFE floss over nylon after using each type for five weeks in a row. By following these simple steps, you can do your part to maintain good oral hygiene in your mouth. No matter what time of day you do it, or what kind of floss you use, flossing is an important part of your daily hygiene routine and should always be done properly.

The Importance of Wearing Mouthguards

When a child loses his two front teeth, it’s cute and we write songs about it. When an adult loses any of his or her teeth, it’s embarrassing and can have a major impact on quality of life.

Missing Teeth

Missing teeth can affect you in many ways. It can change eating from something enjoyable to a task, especially for crunchy foods like fruits and vegetables. Speaking may become more difficult, since many consonant sounds are made by your tongue touching your teeth—a simple action that becomes impossible if your teeth aren’t there. If the lost teeth are prominent, smiling and conversing with friends and loved ones can become awkward or uncomfortable. And replacing the missing teeth with false ones can be costly, painful, and can take a lot of time.

Protecting Your Mouth

Wearing a mouthguard can prevent injuries to your teeth, mouth, and jaw, such as having teeth chipped or knocked out. You may think that only football players or boxers need to use mouthguards, but the American Dental Association and the International Academy for Sports Dentistry recommend that you wear a mouthguard during any activity with the potential for head to head contact, violent falls, or any other blows to the mouth, whether on purpose or accidental. This includes:

• Acrobatics
• Basketball
• Bicycling
• Boxing
• Equestrianism
• Extreme sports
• Field hockey
• Football
• Gymnastics
• Handball
• Ice hockey
• Inline skating
• Lacrosse
• Martial arts
• Racquetball
• Rugby
• Shotputting
• Skateboarding
• Skiing
• Skydiving
• Soccer
• Softball
• Squash
• Surfing
• Volleyball
• Water polo
• Weightlifting
• Wrestling

Minimizing Damage

While wearing a mouthguard will not prevent facial trauma such as soft tissue damage or broken facial bones, it will protect your teeth and thus, your smile. The more custom-fitted your mouthguard is, the more protection it will offer. The three main types of mouthguard are: stock mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards that form to your mouth, and custom-fit mouthguards made by a dentist. Stock mouthguards are the least expensive, but provide the lease protection. For most casual athletes, a boil-and-bite mouthguard is the best choice. Those who participate in very intense or high-contact sports should consider getting a mouthguard made to fit their individual mouths. Talk to your dentist about molded designs that will better protect teeth, preventing painful and debilitating injuries.

Being active is important. Being safe while being active is just as important. Use a mouthguard to protect your teeth while you play, especially if you play hard.