How Long Should You Floss?

How Long Should You Floss?

How Long Should You Floss?

When it comes to taking care of your teeth, brushing every day, twice a day, is a well-known guideline, but flossing can often be overlooked. Many people think of flossing as optional rather than an important habit that should be incorporated into your everyday routine. But what does that really mean? Below is a guide to flossing your teeth, and for how long, starting today.

The Importance of Flossing

Flossing is an extremely important part of preventative dental care. The mouth contains millions of bacteria, and even the most effective brushing does not get all of the food debris, plaque, and bacteria out from the tight space between your teeth. Floss is able to get into these hard-to-reach spaces, removing plaque and preventing it from becoming tartar. Once it becomes tartar, only professional dental cleaning can remove it before serious problems set in.

If plaque is left to build up in the mouth, it can cause halitosis, the medical name for bad breath, and tooth staining that can become unsightly. But more critically, plaque produces acids that attack the enamel that coats your teeth, leading to tooth decay and cavities. It can also irritate the gums, leading to an early form of gum disease called gingivitis which is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to a more advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis, which destroys the bone and tissue that support the teeth and could potentially cause tooth loss. Gum disease can also contribute to other serious health concerns like heart disease and diabetes.

Flossing Instructions

  1. Break off about 18 to 24 inches of dental floss, or use a pre-made floss tool. To hold floss correctly, wind the majority of your floss around both of your middle fingers, leaving only 1 to 2 inches in between.
  2. Hold the floss taut, using your thumbs and index fingers to apply tension.
  3. Place the dental floss between your first two teeth. Gently glide it up and down, making sure to rub it against each tooth but not into your gums, as this can damage them.
  4. When the floss reaches your gum, curve it at the base of your tooth, forming a C shape. This will allow the floss to enter the small space between your teeth and gums.
  5. Repeat these steps between each set of teeth, using a new and clean section of floss each time.

The most common mistake people make when flossing is tightening their lips and cheeks, which can make it hard to get the fingers into the mouth properly. Relax your lips and cheeks to make it easier. You’ll want your fingers as close to your tooth as possible.

Another common mistake is not using enough pressure when flossing. You don’t have to be afraid to press into the tooth while remaining gentle enough to actually remove plaque.

How Often Should I Floss?

While the best thing to do is floss daily, it’s more important to focus on how well you floss than how often. Flossing several times a day without taking the time to remove all plaque and tartar isn’t as effective as flossing once a day very well.

For some people, it’s easy to remember to floss each time you brush your teeth. It is generally recommended to floss first, then brush, as flossing can help release residue that was stuck, then allowing them to be removed by brushing.

How Long Should I Floss?

There is no set time that is best, as long as you are thorough and deliberate. Be sure to get between each pair of teeth thoroughly.

However, an average time frame is about 2 to 3 minutes, based on a normal adult mouth of 28 teeth. Combined with the recommended 2 minutes for brushing, about 5 minutes twice a day is all you need to maintain your oral health.

Flossing and brushing should both always be used in conjunction with regular visits to a dentist. Your dentist can determine if your current technique is effective and offer tips if you are struggling!