Floss (Part II)

Flossing you teeth on a daily basis is just as important as toothbrushing. To floss, you need to saw the strand of floss between the teeth, then scrub the tooth surfaces to remove the sticky dental plaque. To manipulate the floss, for the upper teeth, I like to wrap the floss around my index fingers then use my thumbs to do the scrubbing. For the lower, again I like to wrap the floss around my index fingers, but I will manipulate the the floss with my middle fingers. It is important to keep the thumbs (for the upper) and middle fingers (for the lower) very close to the teeth that you are cleaning. That way, the proper pressure can be applied in the correct direction in order to do an efficient job of plaque removal. If the fingers aren’t close enough to the teeth, then you will move a lot of floss and do very little work. As far as type of floss, either waxed or unwaxed are fine. It is just a matter of personal preference. If properly used, both do an adequate job. For those who have difficulty reaching their hands into the back of the mouth, there are little floss picks that are readily available at grocery stores and pharmacies that make it much easier to access and clean the molar teeth.


Floss is an important part of a daily oral hygiene program. A toothbrush will reach the sides and chewing surfaces of the teeth, it can not fit in between the teeth. This is where floss comes into play. Just imagine floss as being a bristle from a toothbrush and with it you scrub the plaque off from between the teeth. Dental plaque is a collection of sticky bacteria that is essentially invisible. It takes the sugar that you eat and produces acids which leaches the calcium from your teeth causing cavities and produces exotoxins which causes an inflammatory response leading to gum disease. This layer of plaque requires about 24 hours to organize and do its dirty work. By getting the floss cleaning between the teeth daily, cavities and gum disease can be greatly reduced. The key to flossing is to make sure that the floss is wrapped around the tooth and then the tooth is scrubbed along its side. It’s a common misperception that the floss merely needs too be placed in between the teeth to be effective, however, floss has no magical properties and must be properly manipulated in order to remove the layer of bacterial dental plaque.