Although teeth can be cleaned by brushing, it is not effective in reaching the adjacent tooth surfaces – adopting a tooth-cleaning technique called flossing can be used for this instead.
Dental floss (or simply floss) is a cord of thin filaments used to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth in areas a toothbrush is unable to reach.
After pulling out approximately 40 cm of floss, the user pulls it against a blade in the dispenser to cut it off. The user then strings the piece of floss on a fork-like instrument or holds it between their fingers using both hands with about 1–2 cm of floss exposed. The user guides the floss between each pair of teeth and gently curves it against the side of the tooth in a ‘C’ shape and guides it under the gum line. This removes particles of food stuck between teeth and dental plaque that adhere to dental surfaces below the gum line.
- Wrap roughly 18 inches of floss around the two middle fingers; the remaining floss can be secured around the preferred fingers of the other hand. Hold the floss firmly between your thumbs and forefingers – this will help to free up the thumbs and index fingers, as it is these fingers that will manipulate the floss. Splitting the two tasks—holding and working the string—makes flossing easier to accomplish.
- The floss should be manoeuvred between the teeth with a gentle rubbing motion and curved against one tooth until the floss meets the gum line. Slide the floss gently between the gum and the tooth.
- The floss should be held firmly against the tooth and rub along the surface of the tooth with a gentle up and down movement. This should be continued until the back side of the last tooth is reached. Follow this process for the remaining teeth.
- A new section of the floss should be used when plaque builds up on it.
TYPES OF FLOSS
It’s made of thin nylon strands. Typically, it has no flavor.
Pro: It fits into tight spaces. Its non-slip grip property makes it easier to hold, and results in you using less actual floss. This might be a good option for you if your teeth are close together.
Con: It’s not very sturdy. The strands could fray, and there could be breakage or snapping during use.
It’s made of standard nylon with a light wax coating. It may have a mint or cinnamon flavor.
Pro: The wax coating makes it easier for the floss to slide between teeth. It’s sturdier than unwaxed floss, so no fraying or breakage during use.
Con: It’s thicker than unwaxed floss, making it more difficult to get into smaller gaps. The slickness of the wax also makes it harder to grip and the texture of the wax may be unpleasant to some.
It has a sturdy fishing line-like nylon that vibrates between the teeth in an oscillating motion.
Pro: It’s a great alternative for those who have difficulty manoeuvring floss.
Con: It can be hard on the gum line. Overzealous flossing can actually change the shape of your gum tissue, especially in the part of your smile that can be seen
It’s a cleaning device that shoots a thin stream of water between your teeth or at the gum line. This product can remove food particles and plaque with ease.
Pro: It is easy to use and doesn’t produce waste. This is a good option for those with braces, or other types of dental work where using regular floss can be difficult.
Con: On top of the higher price range, water flosses may be harder to use outside the home due to the product’s use of electricity and water.
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