Flossing: The Secret To Oral Health


What is Dental Flossing?

Brushing can only clean three-tooth surfaces Facial, Oculus & Lingual. In order to reach the inter-proximal surfaces- Mesial (middle of the front jaw) & Distal (farthest from the middle)- dental floss, dental tape, or super floss is used.


1.Dental floss is round and can be either waxed or un-waxed. Waxed floss is used for tight contacts, since it does not fray as un-waxed floss does. We at Dentavista recommend un-waxed floss as it easy to clean tooth surfaces, smooth restorations, and areas without calculus (tartar).

2.Dental tape is flat and has sharp edges. It can be used for the same purposes as waxed floss.


3.Super floss is made to resemble yarn. It is very effective where large interdental spaces occur.


Flossing can be performed either before or after brushing. When flossing is done first, the fluoride in the toothpaste covers the inter-proximal areas where plaque is removed. We at Dentavista recommend that flossing should be performed at least once a day and preferably before retiring to bed.


What is the right way to floss?

Use a piece of floss approximately 15-18 inches in length. Wrap most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand and just a small amount on the middle finger of the other hand. When moving from tooth to tooth, floss can be unwrapped from one finger and onto the other.

1.Begin in the maxillary right quadrant on the most distal surface.(Right side of the mouth). With no more than 2-inches of floss between the fingers, guide the floss with both thumbs or thumb and index finger. Pull the floss around the distal surface of the tooth. Starting at the sulcus, move the floss up and down several times. Before moving to the next area, use a clean piece of floss. Unwrap the floss from one finger onto to the other.


2. Hold floss in a diagonal position over the teeth at the insertion point. Seesaw the floss  between the contact areas. Do not force or snap the floss as the interdental papilla may be injured in the process.


3. Pull the floss around the Mesial surface of the tooth. Starting at the sulcus, move the floss up and down several times. Cross the interdental papilla and wrap the floss around the distal surface of the neighboring tooth. Slide the floss up and down several times.


4. Remove the floss using a seesaw motion. If the contact is too right or the floss begins to shred, hold it against the proximal surface and pull the floss through, unwrapping it from the opposite finger.


5. Move to the mandibular arch. Guide the floss with both forefingers. Continue with steps 3-7.


6. Move from tooth to tooth until all teeth have been flossed.


What are the precautions one should take while flossing?

Flossing incorrectly could result in floss cuts and trauma to the interdental papilla. Problems may be avoided when proper instruction and precautions are brought to the patient’s awareness.


1. Allowing too much floss length between fingers when inserting inter-proximally.


2. Snapping the floss between the contacts without using a finger rest.


3. See-sawing the floss once it is in the inter-proximal area.


Our dentists hear all sorts of excuses for not flossing. At Dentavista, our doctors demonstrate on how to floss the right way!


What are the simple aids for flossing?

If a patient experiences difficulty in flossing, a floss holder may be used. Patients who lack the manual dexterity to floss will benefit most from using a holder.


1.In the event the patient has a fixed bridge, a floss threader is a convenient way to guide the floss under the pontic (artificial tooth) to clean the space and the cervical position of the crown. It resembles a needle with a large eye.


2. A perio-aid is a device that has two angled ends and round toothpick tips inserted into either end.


3. A 2-inch triangular wooden tip known as a Stim-U-Dent is suggested for use when there is lack of interdental papilla.


At Dentavista, we suggest the use of inter proximal brush, where areas of the mouth are inaccessible or where there are open contacts or bridgework.

To revive unhealthy gingivae, a rubber tipped stimulator is used. By massaging the diseased area, blood flow is increased or restored. It should never be used on healthy gums.


An increasing body of evidence suggests that proper dental care — including regular flossing — can do more than keep your smile pretty and healthy.


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