1) Who invented dental floss?: People have flossed since prehistoric time. The invention of modern dental floss is attributed to Dr. Levi Spear Parmly of New Orleans. In 1815, he recommended that individuals should clean their teeth with silk floss.
2) How to choose the right dental floss for your teeth: Most floss is made from either Nylon (multifilament floss) or Teflon (monofilament floss). Both types are equally effective. Because Nylon floss is composed of many strands of nylon, it may sometimes tear or shred if you have teeth with tight contact points. Teflon floss slides more easily between teeth and is virtually shred-resistant. If you have bridges or braces, use a floss threader that looks like a plastic sewing needle or “Super Floss” that has one stiff end to thread through the teeth.
3) What length of floss?: Use a piece of floss 15 to 18 inches long and wrap it around your middle fingers. Use the pointer finger of each hand to direct the floss between the teeth. Keep your fingers close together.
- Did you know?: The average amount of floss bought per person in North America each year is 18 yards. Unfortunately, figuring 15 inches per day actually comes out to over 150 yards per year. That means there are a lot of non-flossers out there!
4) Flossing motion:
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle sawing motion. Do not force the floss or snap it down hard.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against the tooth, like you are “wrapping a towel behind your back after the shower.” Apply the floss by using a back and forth motion and gently scraping the side of the tooth. Lift debris using an up-and down motion.
- Repeat this technique on all of your teeth, including the teeth in back.
- Learn More: Colgate toothpaste has produced a video demonstrating “How to Floss”
6) How often to floss: Technically, you should floss after every meal, but aim for once a day as a goal. And even 2-3 times a week is better than never flossing!
Remember: Flossing is the only way to clean the whole tooth. A toothbrush cannot clean in between the teeth; hence if you brush and you do not floss, you never clean the entire tooth! Have a question or comment? Please feel free to add one below, send us an email, or ask Dr. Pechter the next time you are in the office.