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Thriving By a Thread: 5 Flossing Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums

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Brushing your teeth and swishing with mouthwash are two very important things to do for your dental health. There is one daily dental-care procedure that is equally important: flossing your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that people floss between their teeth at least once each day. How well you floss matters as much as how often you floss. Follow these tips to ensure that you are optimally flossing to best take care of your teeth and gums.

Tip #1: Measure a Long Piece of Floss

Start with an 18-inch to 20-inch thread of floss. You will need floss that is this long to ensure that you do a thorough job of flossing. You need to have a fresh, clean section of the floss for each crevice between your teeth. Continue until all your teeth have been flossed each time.

Tip #2: Hang on Firmly as You Floss

The floss should be held between your fingers. Holding it between your thumb and middle finger may be easiest, but arrange the floss so that you are comfortable while you floss. You may opt to use your index finger to arrange the floss and pull it back as you go from crevice to crevice between your teeth.

Tip #3: Use a Zig-Zag Motion

As you floss, continue in a zig-zag motion. Move the floss so that it hugs the side of each tooth, carefully pushing plaque and remnants of food from between your teeth.

Tip #4: Be Assertive—Not Aggressive—with Your Movements

Floss your teeth with assertive movements. You need to be gentle with gums that easily bleed, but you must also be assertive in how you floss. This is a careful balance because you can do serious damage if you are too aggressive with your teeth and gums.

Tip #5: Watch Yourself in the Mirror as you Floss

Be sure to watch the flossing process in the mirror as you go. A mirror can show you areas of your teeth that you are missing, and it can show you where plaque is building up. Floss carefully while observing your handiwork. Also, be sure that you are flossing in a well-lit area, or you could be neglecting important areas that need the most flossing.

Finally, keep in mind that flossing your teeth is something that you can get better at with time. Follow these tips and pay close attention to how your teeth look and feel. If you feel that you are having dental issues despite taking care of your teeth, talk to a dentist such as Marc E. Segal, D.D.S. about ways you might improve your brushing and flossing techniques.