Flosses and picks
Plaque is a sticky layer of material that contains germs that accumulate.on
teeth, including places where tooth brushes can't reach. This can lead to gum disease. The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss your teeth carefully every day. The tooth brush cleans the
tops and sides of your teeth. Dental floss cleans in between them. Some people use
waterpicks but floss is the best choice.
Should I floss?
Yes. Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between
teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. Floss is the single most
important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush. Many people
just don't spend enough time flossing or brushing and many have never been taught
to floss or brush properly. When you visit your dentist or hygienist, ask to be shown.
Which type of floss
should I use?
Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored,
wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of
bridgework. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide.
clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight
teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you
know your teeth are clean.
unwaxed floss does not fray easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed
How should I floss?
There are two flossing methods: the spool method and the loop method. The spool
method is suited for those with manual dexterity. Take an 18inch piece of floss and wind
the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. (Don't cut off your finger's
circulation!) Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it
becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and
thumbs. Don't pull it down hard against your gums or you will hurt them. Don't rub it side
to side as if you're shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times
forming a "C" shape and be sure to go below the gum line.
method is suited for children or adults with less nimble hands, poor muscular coordination
or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss, and make it into a circle. Tie it securely
with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your
index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the
floss through the upper teeth.
How often, should I floss?
At least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three
What about floss holders?
You may prefer a prethreaded flosser or floss holder, which often looks like a little
hacksaw. Flossers are handy for people with limited dexterity, for those who are just
beginning to floss, or for caretakers who are flossing someone else's teeth.
Is it safe to use toothpicks?
In a pinch, toothpicks are effective at removing food between teeth, but for daily
cleaning of plaque between teeth, floss is recommended. Toothpicks come round and flat,
narrow and thick. When you use a toothpick, don't press too hard or you can damage your
Do I need a waterpick
Don't use waterpicks as a substitute for toothbrushing and flossing. But they are
effective around orthodontic braces that retain food in areas the toothbrush cannot reach.
However, they do not remove plaque.
are frequently recommended for persons with periodontal disease when recommended by your
dentist. Solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline,
available through a dentist's prescription, can be added to the reservoir.
to Facts About Dentistry & Services
Send comments to:Dr. Jay Last Update
February 16, 2006