Dr. Hanan A. Elsaie DDS,
one of America’s Top Dentists, Consumers’ Research Council of America, Guide to America’s Top Dentists

Dominion 1 Dental - Arlington, TX. Tel: (817) 784-7888

Home Dental Education

Dental Flossing

The correct use of dental floss

Plaque is the sticky substance that contains germs which amass on teeth. Plaque may be positioned in hard to reach places in the mouth and, if untreated, may lead to gum disease. Vigilant oral care like brushing your teeth and flossing daily will help in preventing plaque.

Brushing your teeth will clean the surfaces of the teeth and flossing will sweep the areas that are not accessible by the toothbrush. Floss is the ideal tool for removing plaque and other debris that adhere to the teeth; aside from polishing the teeth, floss also helps control bad breath.

There are different kinds of dental floss, namely:

- Waxed - which slip easily in between teeth, but tears easily than unwaxed floss

- Unwaxed - This is ideal in monitoring the progress of tooth flossing, but frays easily than waxed floss.

- Regular / Thin

- Wide / Dental Tape - is ideal for people with a lot of bridge work

Dental Floss may also be:

- Bonded - bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss

- Regular

They all work well depending on the needs of the person utilizing them. Flossing should be practiced at least once a day and should be done for at least two to three minutes.

Some people use toothpicks instead of dental floss. Toothpicks are effective if used sparingly but dental floss is the ideal choice for daily use.

Some people need to use a waterpick or irrigating device. Waterpicks are not an effective substitute for toothbrushes together with dental floss because waterpicks do not remove plaque. However, some cases may utilize waterpicks if afflicted with certain gum diseases. Solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline, available through a dentist's prescription, can be added to the reservoir.

Flossing should not be taken lightly because it has many benefits. By making flossing your teeth a daily habit, you increase the chance of keeping your teeth for your whole lifetime, and decrease the chances for nasty periodontal or gum disease. Flossing also helps improve the blood circulation in the gums.