Everyone knows flossing daily is recommended however flossing properly is often ignored. Flossing incorrectly or aggressively can be both frustrating and damaging. As seen in the photo taken by our hygienist, Heather Nygard, RDH, aggressive flossing in a sawing motion has led to gingival clefting and recession around the patient’s molar.
Proper flossing technique starts with a long piece of floss, approximately 18 inches. Wind the floss around the middle finger of each hand. Hold the floss taut between the thumb of one hand and forefinger of the other, leaving about an inch between the two. Carefully, floss between two teeth. If needed use a back and forth motion to ease the floss between the contact of the two teeth. Try not to snap the floss through the contact which can lead to injury of the gum tissue. Gently bring the floss to the gumline, curve the floss around the tooth and slide it up and down along the tooth surface. Do not saw back and forth at the gumline aggressively. If you have not been a diligent ‘flosser’ in the past, you may experience slight discomfort initially along with some bleeding gums. These symptoms may be an indication of gingivitis or an underlying periodontal condition however do not be discouraged. Continue to floss and as the gums become healthier the discomfort and bleeding should resolve. Additionally, it is also important to maintain your recall appointments with your dentist.
Patients always ask what the best floss is to use at home. The answer is whatever floss you prefer. The most important factor is picking a product that you find ease and pleasant to use and therefore you are more likely to floss regularly. Numerous studies have shown no significant difference in the effectiveness of any of the different kinds of floss, including waxed vs. unwaxed.