Flossing can make a huge difference in a person's oral hygiene. Dentists often say that if you want to keep your teeth, you need to floss them. While this is often true, just attempting to floss may not be enough. If you don't follow the right steps when you're flossing, you could end up with a surprising amount of leftover bacteria and plaque. Read on to find out if you're flossing wrong and how to fix your problem.
The Right Way
When you floss, you need to do more than just tug the floss between your two teeth and out again. Think of it as washing two walls on either side of a room. You need to pull the floss taut against the edge of one of your teeth so you can scrape all the plaque and bacteria off. Then, repeat the process on the opposite tooth. Finally, make sure that you pull the floss up and under your gumline to remove any hidden bacteria that can trigger gum disease.
Whether you think you're flossing wrong or right, there's one easy way to find out. To test yourself, purchase a set of plaque disclosing tablets from your local drugstore's dental aisle. These tablets are typically bright red and adhere to plaque, allowing you to see where you have a plaque problem.
After your purchase, go home and floss and brush your teeth as you normally do. Then, chew one of the tablets. Make sure to spread it all around your mouth. For the moment of truth, look in the mirror. You shouldn't see red between your teeth. If you do, you need to work a little harder while flossing.
What To Do
If you already have a plaque build-up in the crevices of your teeth, you may also have tartar. It's a good idea to visit a dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning. This will make flossing easier, as it will remove any tartar between your teeth and allow more space for the floss to pass through. It will also ensure that you can use your tablets and see from the start how little plaque you have after your cleaning. This is what you should aim for in the days and weeks to come following flossing and brushing.
There's a wrong way and a right way to floss, so make sure you're doing it right. If you're concerned about the health of your teeth or gums or worried about flossing poorly, visit a dental hygienist to get an exam and cleaning.