Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Flossing

Woman flossing in mirror at home

Flossing is integral to your dental hygiene routine to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. While flossing provides numerous oral health benefits, only about 31.6% of Americans floss daily using the correct technique.

Discover why flossing is important for your dental health, how to floss correctly, which floss to use, and other frequently asked questions about this overlooked part of your oral hygiene routine.

Why Do I Need to Floss?

Brushing alone only removes 60% of plaque, bacteria, and debris from your teeth which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing is critical for reaching hard-to-access areas between the teeth and below the gum line.

How Often Should I Floss, and for How Long?

Approximately 68% of adults report flossing once weekly, which is insufficient for promoting good oral health. You should floss daily to get maximum benefits from your dental hygiene routine. Floss for at least two to three minutes to ensure you thoroughly clean both dental arches.

While you can floss at any time of the day, it is beneficial to floss once you are finished eating for the day to avoid the reaccumulation of food particles. You should also floss before you brush to allow the fluoride in your toothpaste to remineralize the enamel on all tooth surfaces more effectively.

Flossing before brushing has also been shown to remove more plaque and bacteria than flossing after brushing.

How Do I Floss Correctly?

Flossing correctly is essential to avoid damaging your sensitive gum tissue and ensure the effective removal of plaque and bacteria. To floss correctly, follow these steps:

  • Take an 18” piece of floss and remove it from the dispenser.
  • Wrap the floss around the middle finger on each hand for a tight grip.
  • With the floss held between your thumb and middle finger, slide the floss into the gap between the teeth.
  • Gently slide the floss up and down, not in and out.
  • Curve the floss around each tooth and floss beneath the gum line. Do this gently to avoid injuring your gums.

Why Do My Gums Bleed After I Floss?

Gums bleed due to inflammation from tartar build-up along your gum line. If you do not floss regularly to remove plaque, it hardens into tartar which can only be removed with a professional cleaning. The tartar irritates the gum tissue, causing inflammation, and your gums will bleed each time you floss.

Bleeding gums are a symptom of early gum disease (gingivitis) and a sign that you need to floss more frequently to avoid the accumulation of plaque and bacteria.

What Type of Dental Floss Should I Use?

There are two main types of dental floss: nylon floss (also called multifilament floss) and PTFE (or monofilament) floss.

Nylon floss is a more affordable option but may fray with vigorous usage. PTFE floss is more durable and slides around the teeth easier than nylon floss.

You can also buy waxed or unwaxed floss. Waxed floss is less likely to fray and become stuck in your teeth, making it a better choice for those with sensitive gums. However, unwaxed floss is typically more effective at removing plaque.

Protect Your Dental Health with Valley Dental Care

If you show signs of gum disease or tooth decay, you may need to modify your oral health routine and floss more often. Your dentist can give you a demonstration of proper flossing and create a treatment plan to fight against tooth decay and gingivitis.

Contact Valley Dental Care in Aurora (630) 892-2193 or Oswego (630) 551-7000 to schedule your dental cleaning and exam.