Flossing your teeth shouldn’t feel awkward, boring or painful. And dodging the floss because of these reasons isn’t doing your teeth and gums any favours. Flossing teeth regularly improves your oral health and can even result in shorter hygiene appointments. So, if you want to spend less time in the chair then let’s talk about flossing.
No. Not that type of flossing. This type of flossing.
Why you hate flossing
If you’re a floss dodger you may use one (or both) of the following arguments to convince yourself it’s not worth doing.
Argument number 1: “Sticking a tiny bit of string between my teeth isn’t going to have a massive impact on my oral hygiene. I mean, it’s just string! So, skipping the floss now and then is fine.”
Argument number 2: “Flossing teeth is boring. I hate it. It hurts my gums and takes too long. Plus, I brush my teeth twice a day so it’s fine.”
As dentists, we’d like to address each of these anti-flossing arguments. Hopefully we’ll convince you once and for all that daily flossing is a good idea.
Argument 1: Flossing won’t help
When food lingers around your teeth and gums, plaque is more likely to build up. Letting plaque bacteria fester in your mouth can lead to problems, such as gum disease and tooth decay. Regular brushing gets rid of a lot of the plaque around your teeth and gums, but there are some areas brushes can’t reach. Flossing gets into every narrow gap. It coaxes out food that’s stuck between your teeth and removes plaque.
Argument 2: Flossing is boring and it hurts
Here are a couple of ideas to make flossing feel less of a chore.
- Put on your favourite song and floss to a tune you enjoy. (Although singing along may be difficult.)
- Reward yourself each time you floss — ideally not with something edible right after you’ve cleaned your teeth.
Admittedly, there aren’t too many ways to jazz up flossing. It’s just one of those average life tasks that need doing. Similar to emptying the dishwasher and folding washing.
If you struggle with flossing because it’s painful or your gums bleed, then we’re dealing with a different problem. Pain could mean you’re flossing technique needs a little work. While bleeding gums could be a sign of gum disease.
If bleeding occurs, don’t ignore it. Brushing more regularly, using a soft-bristled brush, and flossing your teeth every day may help lessen the bleeding but you should make an appointment to see your dentist. They’ll assess the damage and advise you on the treatment options.
How to floss your teeth
With the right technique, flossing shouldn’t hurt or take much time. Here’s how to do it right in five simple steps.
- Cut around 30-40cm of floss from your reel. Wrap one end around your index finger on one hand. Make a second ‘end’ roughly 3cm from your first finger and wrap around the index finger on your other hand. The floss between your fingers should be pulled taut.
- Placing your thumbs under the floss, guide it gently between your teeth. Use an up and down motion to ease it in. Avoid forcing or quickly snapping the floss right up to the gum line.
- Curve the floss around the tooth and then make a hook-shape as you move it around the side of the tooth and gum line. Make this movement once or twice and do it for the tooth on either side of the floss.
- Work downwards to gently slide the floss back out between the gap.
- Unroll a fresh 3cm of floss from your fingers and move onto the next tooth. Repeat the process.
What age should you start flossing?
Perhaps the reason you’re reading this article and don’t like flossing is because it was never ‘a thing’ when you were growing up. It’s never too late to start. Make flossing part of your daily oral health routine and you’ll be doing your teeth a big favour.
If you’re a parent and don’t want your kids to have the floss-less childhood you did, you can start setting an example from as young as two years old. By flossing your child’s teeth after brushing while they’re young, they’ll see it as a regular part of cleaning their teeth. The hope is that as soon as they’re old enough to do it themselves (aged around 10), they’ll continue with it.
Get extra guidance on flossing
Still unsure whether flossing is worth your time or how to do it? If you’re a Keppel Dental patient, our dentists are more than happy to talk to you about flossing and brushing. Let us know at the start of your appointment that this is something you want to go over, and we’ll leave time for a flossing demo.