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THE GENTLEMen's DEPARTMENT

THE GENTLEMen's DEPARTMENT

March 15, 2019

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth Single Man's Guide to Love

You know you need to floss, but it’s kind of a pain. You might have even seen some news fly around a few years ago about how flossing doesn’t really do anything important. Rather than read the study, you used it as an excuse to be lazy. That was your first mistake. We know for certain that flossing is extremely important to dental health. So, to help you with your shortcomings, today you’re going to learn all about flossing and how to get it done.

When Should You Floss?

Over the decades that modern dentistry has looked at flossing, the answer to this question has shifted. In general, you should floss once a day. Doing any less allows plaque and bacteria to gain a foothold in your mouth, and that can lead to all kinds of problems. Gum disease, tooth decay and any number of other health issues can all be traced back to flossing. If you want a sexy smile, or for any human being to ever consider kissing you, flossing is important.

So, if you floss once a day, when should you do it? There is no set answer to the question. What matters is that you remove gunk from between your teeth on a daily basis. If you like to start your morning with a floss, that’s fine. If you want to save it for bedtime, that’s great too. It doesn’t even really matter if you floss before or after brushing your teeth. Regular application is what matters most.

All of these things considered, if you have nothing dictating when you floss, it can be considered slightly optimal to do it in the evening. Take note of all of those qualifiers. Flossing at night is not universally superior. When there aren’t more pressing factors, it can be considered a slightly better time because it removes stuff from between your teeth before you sleep. That can take a little bit of edge off of your morning breath, and that’s about all the advantage you get.

Now, there’s a second consideration when we talk about frequency of flossing. If you only do it once a day, what happens if you get something stuck in your teeth? Is it ok to floss a little extra? The answer is yes. If something is stuck in your teeth, get it out. Excessive flossing is something that can happen, and it’s particularly hard on the gums. But, if you’re getting stuff stuck in your teeth so much that it leads to excessive flossing, the problem is with your diet. I know. It’s abhorrent, but if you eat so much brisket that it’s hurting your gums, it’s time to dial back a little.

how to properly floss your teeth

What Does Flossing Do?

If you’re still reading this, you probably want to learn more about how to effectively floss. Conventional wisdom suggests that knowing what flossing is supposed to do will help you with that. So, let’s cover the three reasons to floss.

The first thing flossing does for your teeth is remove stuff that gets stuck in them. As we just discussed, it’s the go-to method. There are a few reasons you want to remove anything stuck between your teeth. The most obvious is that it’s uncomfortable. In fact, if you left a big chunk of stuff in your teeth long enough, it could cause them to shift, so pay attention to that discomfort. You also likely understand that leaving food to decompose in your teeth is unhealthy. Food for you is also food for bacteria, and they can damage your teeth when you let them grow. A little flossing helps a lot with that.

The second, and arguably most important, goal of flossing is to remove plaque. For those who don’t ever pay attention when they go to the dentist, plaque is the film that builds up on your teeth. Dental hygienists make a living scrapping this stuff off of you with a metal pick (they do other important things, too). The reason for removing plaque is that it is the most stable part of the biofilm in your mouth. That’s a lot of science talk to say that when you don’t periodically remove plaque, it helps microbes survive in your mouth. All of the mouthwash and toothpaste in the world won’t save you. So, you use a brush on most of your teeth, and you use dental floss to get the plaque in between.

The third major purpose of flossing is to strengthen the gums. It might sound barbarian on the surface, but the stimulation of the gums with dental floss hardens them a little and makes them more resistant to those microbes we keep mentioning. This is also why a lot of people suffer from bleeding gums when they first start flossing and the problem eventually goes away. They get tougher.

how to properly floss your teeth

How to Floss 

Ok. Now that you understand the purpose, let’s talk technique. There are several ways to approach flossing, but we’ll hit the standard first. If you have a roll of dental floss, this is going to get you started.

You want about 18 inches of floss to get going. That’s more than most people realize they need until they’re a bit more experienced. This foot and a half of dental floss is going to be wrapped fairly evenly around your middle fingers. Be careful not to wrap too tightly and cut circulation.

Once you wrap the floss, you’re going to leave three or four inches in between your hands. You want to grab it at each end between the thumb and forefinger. There are nice animations here to help you get a visual.

Using that small bit of floss, you’re going to push it between your teeth. You want to be gentle here. For all of the talk of strengthening gums, you don’t need to brutalize your mouth. In fact, if you get a popping sound while you floss, you’re probably pushing too hard. If you can’t stop the pop no matter how gently you push, consider investing in thinner floss. When you push the floss between the teeth, it does all of the work and will scrape them clean.

As you work your way through your mouth, you’ll unwind and rewind the floss on your fingers to have a clean working space for each tooth. You shouldn’t be forcing soiled floss between teeth. Also, make sure you hit every tooth in your mouth. 

When you’re finished, rinse your mouth with water. 

Alternative Tools

Some people struggle with traditional flossing. Maybe you have abnormally sized hands. Maybe you just hate doing it. There are plenty of tools that can help you compensate. If traditional flossing is out, look into these options.

Floss holders top the list. They’re basically little plastic tools with floss already strung on them. You can find them in any pharmacy section in the country. These little guys are super convenient, but you’ll go through them pretty fast. Each holder usually only has about an inch of floss to work with, and that’s not enough to do your whole mouth. As soon as the floss is soiled, you need to switch.

how to properly floss your teeth

Floss threaders are designed to solve a particular problem. Plenty of you reading this might have a retainer on your bottom teeth. It gets in the way of flossing. Floss threaders take care of it. You’ll want to do normal flossing on those bottom teeth up to the point where it hits the retainer. Then, you can use your threaders to spear the floss between your teeth underneath the retainer. From there, it’s business as usual.

The last tool in the bunch is not for everyone. Let’s clarify. Anyone can use it, but it’s not as effective as flossing, so it should only be your go-to if a dentist says so. The tool is a water pick or water flosser. It will use streams of water to clean between your teeth. It’s gentler than floss, and it’s not as good at removing plaque — hence it not being your top choice. Still, some people have extremely sensitive gums or other oral health issues that make traditional floss a no no. In those cases, water flossing is a gentle alternative.

Flossing really isn’t that hard. In fact, there’s a good chance you had a fair idea about all of this before you read it. Instead, you just reinforced what you should have been doing all along. Just in case you’re still not sold, let’s remember why we take care of our teeth. Nobody cares if they’re going to need dentures in their geriatric years. You want to floss because it keeps your mouth clean. If you have any desire to have any kind of love life, it’s mandatory. You might think you’ve gotten away with not flossing so far, but after you make the change, you’ll see improvements to your game. Men and women both notice bad teeth and stinky breath. Just floss, bro.

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