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Video:How to Floss Properly

with Dr. Lawrence Spindel

Flossing regularly is a habit that's hard to form, but the benefits of doing so will make a difference in your dental health. Learn the proper technique for flossing, and see how it reduces plaque.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Floss Properly

Hi, I'm Dr. Lawrence Spindel. I'm a dentist with a practice in Manhattan, with an emphasis on cosmetic, implant, and preventive dentistry. I'm here today for About.com to demonstrate a proper technique for flossing your teeth.

Why Floss?

Flossing is important to clean between your teeth. If people don't clean between their teeth plaque develops and can cause periodontal disease and gingival inflammation.

Flossing is technique sensitive. Many people do floss but they floss improperly. They don't get the full benefit of the process. You have to be committed to keeping your mouth clean.

How to Hold Floss

Start by taking a big piece of floss. Wrap it around these fingers and put it between your thumb and your forefingers. Keep the piece that you're using about an inch – an inch and a half.

Flossing Motion

Then, using your fingers to guide the floss gently insert it between the teeth. Them using your fingers, make a "C." And make an up and down motion, gently. And do the other side, and then you can switch fingers. You have too – guide with your finger tips. This way, the entire surface will get clean.

Improper Flossing Techniques

Many people floss improperly and they either floss like this, or they floss like this – but they don't make the "C". They might make an "L" but they don't make a "C". You need to make a "C" shape in order to clean the proximal surfaces adequately.

How Floss Works

The floss, essentially, is a rag, which is used to wipe the plaque off the surfaces of the teeth. In my opinion it's optimum to floss every day, but, if one flosses several times a week - you get much of the benefit. Any amount of flossing is good.

It's really the same doing it on the upper part; you just have to develop your technique. The "C" effect is really important, the floss is almost like a squeegee and you want it to, as much as possible, form very tightly to the surfaces of the teeth. You must bring your fingers quite close together.

You can wrap any fingers you want, just make sure to leave this finger free. (Visual demonstration by patient)…that's perfect…perfect.

Flossing Back Teeth

Something that I would like to point out is that the back teeth are quite short and people have difficulty doing this motion. In the mouth, the back teeth are small, short…and carefully work your way in, and this is, essentially, the proper technique for cleaning the back teeth. People have more trouble mastering the flossing of their back teeth then their front teeth.

Flossing and Plaque

Plaque actually is a greasy film that forms on the teeth, and you can see it as you've removed it on the floss. (Visual demonstration by patient).

Although the technique can be difficult to master, once mastered it will help keep your teeth healthy for the rest of your life.

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