A simple smile can accomplish a lot—lighten the atmosphere, open conversations, diffuse tensions and even be the beginning of a long relationship. If you have healthy white teeth to boot, the more reasons you have to smile. So, what is the secret to possessing pearly whites to die for? Dental floss may be one answer.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to floss for healthy teeth by Dr Babu Salam, periodontist from Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Take 18 to 24 inches of floss from the roll and cut it. Roll it around the middle fingers of both hands leaving 1 to 2 inches of floss in between your fingers.
Use your index finger and thumb to guide the floss in between your teeth and towards the gums. Initially, you may feel a tightness while inserting the floss. However, after a point the floss enters the triangular space between two teeth close to the gums. Do not snap the floss.
Curve the floss to the side of the tooth in a C shape and floss it in an up-and-down motion.
Release the floss and reinsert it into the other side of the same tooth and floss. Follow the same procedure for other teeth. You can replace the floss if it is damaged.
Flossing should be completed within a minute and should not take more than 2 minutes. However, you can take up to 2 to 3 minutes while learning. Practice by looking into a mirror. Dispose the floss after use.
Other factors to consider
Floss your teeth before brushing for effective cleaning. “Be gentle! Never floss in a rapid sawing motion as it can hurt the gums resulting in loss of a portion of the gums, and eventual bleeding,” says Dr Salam.
Floss picks can also be used. As with the other flosses, these too need to be curved into a C shape after they are inserted in between teeth.
Dr Salam adds that only people who do not have any gap between their teeth and who have healthy gums should use dental floss. Also, avoid using a floss if you can insert it easily. In such instances, it is ineffective and does not clean the teeth.
Brushing and flossing
A 2022 study by Ananda B Londero and team on 75 healthy individuals who were experiencing gum bleeding, highlights the effectiveness of flossing and brushing. The individuals were divided into two groups and asked to follow oral hygiene measures.
While one group was asked to use only a toothbrush, the other group was instructed to use both toothbrush and floss. After 30 days, the recovery from gum bleeding and inflammation was better in the group using both toothbrush and floss than those who only used a toothbrush.