We’re always asking whether you’ve been flossing at your dental exams. And whether you answer yes or no, your gums always tell the truth. In reality, many patients don’t floss regularly – and this is understandable. After all, picking up the floss can feel like an unnecessary extra step after you’ve finished brushing. What difference is it really going to make?
The thing is, flossing really does improve your dental health – studies have shown that regular flossing can reduce cavities and gum inflammation. This means it’s a one-two punch in the battle against decay and gum disease. But we know how tough it can be to get started. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful guide to get you on the flossing path – and make it worth your while.
If you’re ever looking for floss recommendations or help with your technique, just get in touch!
Flossing Hacks to Get Yourself in the Habit
- Find the right floss for your teeth – While floss might seem relatively straightforward, there are actually different kinds available. If you have teeth that are close together and difficult to floss between, a fine floss will help you navigate between them. Waxed floss and flavored floss help make flossing easy to perform and enjoyable, with a minty-fresh aftertaste. Floss picks hold onto small sections of floss to make the movements involved easier to handle. If you’ve struggled with flossing in the past, consider trying a different type that might be a better fit.
- Revisit your technique – Flossing is only constructive if you’re doing it the right way, and it’s easier to floss poorly than you might expect. Take this opportunity to check up on your flossing technique and make sure it’s effective. Pull out a piece of floss that is 18 inches long and wind it around the middle finger on both hands. Then, pinch the floss between the thumbs and first fingers, leaving about 1-2 inches free between your hands. Pull the floss tight, using the index fingers to guide the floss between two of your teeth by sliding gently back and forth. Wrap the floss around each tooth, sliding it up to the gum line. Repeat until you’ve flossed between all your teeth – and don’t forget the spaces behind your molars! Watch a video for additional guidance.
- Try a waterpik – Also known as water flossing, water picking offers an alternative to traditional flossing. This method uses a handheld appliance that flushes the space between teeth with water. The water’s pressure massages the gums and pushes food particles away from the teeth. If you dislike regular floss, this might be a better option. Note that waterpiks don’t usually remove all plaque, so combining a water flosser with regular floss is the best bet.
- Set flossing reminders – Struggle to remember to pick up your floss? Add a little structure to your habit to make sure it gets done each day. First, determine whether morning flossing or evening flossing is preferable – most patients choose evening since they tend to have a little more time to spend on oral hygiene before bed. Then, pick a reminder that’s going to help you stay on top of your daily flossing. You might put a post-it on your bathroom mirror to remind you to pick it up. Or, you could set a bedtime phone alert that puts floss at the forefront of your thoughts. Either way, keep this up for a couple weeks and you’ll soon be flossing without specific reminders.
- Make flossing fun – It can be tough to get started with regular flossing. If you have gingivitis or your gums are sensitive, you’ll likely experience some bleeding and tenderness. But this will fade within a few days of consistent flossing, and should be gone entirely within a week. After that, you can focus on actually enjoying flossing. It adds a whole new level of cleanliness to your mouth, and you can feel and appreciate that. You might be surprised to see just how much food you remove from between your teeth, and how much better you feel afterwards.
- Track your progress – Take note of when you start flossing regularly – put it on your calendar as START. At your next few dental exams, ask your hygienist about how your plaque buildup compares. You might be surprised to see your teeth and gums exhibiting less plaque and fewer dental problems – thanks to floss!