When it comes to flossing, there is a right way to take care of your mouth. To remove as much bacteria buildup as possible, grip the floss tightly with both hands and guide it between each tooth to where the gum and tooth meet, then gently scrape the side of each tooth. Repeat this step for the space between all of your teeth, including those at the far back of your mouth. For some, flossing comes naturally; for others, picking a floss type, perfecting the method, or sticking with a routine are difficult prospects. While floss technique is a one-way street, choosing the right floss for you doesn’t have to be.
Types of Floss
Floss comes in a surprising variety of types, each meant to treat different kinds of mouths. Talk to your dentist about the type of floss that best suits your unique mouth, as problems like mouth cuts or trauma to your gums can occur from using the wrong floss.
Waxed and Unwaxed floss
For people who have little to no space between their teeth (that is, the gum fills the space between each tooth almost completely), waxed and unwaxed floss are traditional strings that are – you guessed it – either waxed or unwaxed. Between these two most common types of floss, there isn’t much hygienic difference, so pick your preference. However, waxed floss is made specifically to prevent fraying, so if you tend to pull extra hard on the string while you floss, opt for a waxed floss over unwaxed to prevent breakage. Even with traditional floss, pushing too hard or too far up into your gums can cause minor cuts or damage to your mouth.
Like waxed floss but slightly wider and flatter, dental tape is perfect for teeth with a lot of surface area. The flat design can cover more of your tooth in one swipe, and pick up more plaque and food particles. Like regular waxed floss, misuse can cause minor cuts in the mouth, but these tend to be easily preventable by reducing your floss pressure.
Braided floss, also called “Super Floss”
For teeth with wider gaps and space in between where the gums and teeth should meet, many dentists recommend a rope floss, commonly referred to as “super floss”. Super floss is the same diameter as traditional floss, but resembles a braided rope that’s meant to grab extra food particles that get stuck high up in your gums where your toothbrush may not reach. Super floss is also great for people with dentures, as its resilience holds up against even manufactured teeth. Because it’s tougher, braided floss can also cause more trauma to your gums, and its rope-like sections can fray if they get caught between teeth.
A floss pick isn’t just floss – it’s a small plastic utensil that holds a piece of floss and can help kids or the less dexterous get that elusive string in between their teeth. Although floss picks typically can’t reach the same area as hand-held floss, they’re perfect a quick post-meal touchup, and can help teach young kids that flossing can be fun and easy.
Floss Tip: Use a Threader
For anyone with braces, built-on wire retainers, or especially close teeth, using a threader can make flossing exponentially less stressful. A “threader” is simply a slightly stronger piece of floss, or a small piece of plastic that can carry a piece of floss through small gaps between the teeth.
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