Although it seems simple enough, flossing requires a dedication to using the right tools and techniques. Otherwise, your efforts could fall flat, leaving plaque between your teeth and below your gumline. Cavities, gum disease and tooth loss can quickly follow as the plaque allows harmful bacteria to flourish. Thankfully, learning how to floss effectively — and with the right tools — is quite easy. Here are five helpful tips to get you started.

There are Many Different Floss Options

Gone are the days of a single type of dental floss in a few key flavors. Today, there are many different types of floss on the market, so you can find the one that works best for you. Regular dental floss remains a popular option as it comes waxed and unwaxed in a variety of flavors. For a gentler touch, you can choose dental tape instead, which is both thinner and softer than regular floss.

In addition, you can use floss sticks and wands to clean the plaque between your teeth and beneath the gumline. These tools can improve your ability to clean between tightly-spaced molars and other hard to reach areas. For an even deeper clean, you can use an electronic water flosser to blast away plaque and debris.

You Need More Floss Than You Think

When using regular floss and dental tape, you need to work with a lengthy section to properly clean your teeth. You should always use at least 18 inches of floss, so you can use a new section between each of your teeth. By using a clean section of floss each time, you can remove more plaque and avoid the spread of bacteria.

The Floss Must Touch Every Tooth Surface

To have any effect, the floss must firmly touch against each surface of your tooth. This allows the floss to mechanically remove plaque deposits, food particles and other debris. If you simply move the floss back and forth between your teeth, it cannot grab and remove this debris. Instead, you must wrap the floss around the side of each tooth and move the string up and down to break away the deposits.

Gentle Movements Work Best to Clean Teeth

Although plaque often sticks firmly to tooth enamel, you only need to use a gentle touch for its removal. Using too much force or working too quickly, however, can prove more harmful than good. The excess force can lead to damage to your gums, causing bleeding and pain. As you develop a steady flossing routine, you may see a small amount of blood from your gums, but that should clear up within a week or two. Continued or excessive bleeding should be reported to your dentist right away.

You Really Only Need to Floss Once a Day

Although flossing is important, overdoing it will not help you achieve your goals of improved dental health. You really only need to floss once a day to see the greatest benefits. As you floss, you break away the plaque deposits before they have a chance to harden all the way. This allows you to keep your teeth free of debris that would otherwise need to be professionally removed.

When you take the right approach to flossing your teeth, you can keep plaque at bay, preventing cavities, gum disease and tooth loss. Continue to come in for your regular dental exams and cleanings as well to keep your smile shining bright. To schedule your appointment, contact our team at Arvada Dental Center today.