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Flossing Your Teeth The Right Way

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
ANNOUNCER: Dentists say that flossing is essential for a healthy mouth, but you need to make sure you're not doing more harm than good

STEPHEN TYMPANICK, DDS: Flossing incorrectly can do some damage, too. You can hurt your gums and then it gets to the point where you can't even floss them, because it hurts so much. What you're doing is you're removing the film on the side of the tooth that you can't get at with a toothbrush.

ANNOUNCER: Here's the right way to floss so your gums don't suffer.

DENTAL TECHNICIAN: Take a piece of floss, the best thing is to wrap the floss around your middle fingers, keep them about thumb-distance apart so you have room for your forefingers to actually get the floss and help you get in the back a little bit better. When you're placing the floss in between the two teeth you want to get past the contact where the two teeth meet , so you take the floss, you angle it and you want to go back and forth like you're sawing the two teeth in half . You want to fold the floss around the tooth, wrapping it around in a c-motion. You want to go up and down the tooth, bringing it underneath the gum, then you want to bring it back down, wrap it around the opposing tooth, the same thing. Make sure it's in a c-motion, wrapped around the tooth.

STEPHEN TYMPANICK, DDS: After each time you clean, you wrap the floss around your finger once, so you're advancing the floss and now you have a fresh piece of floss you're using as you go.

ANNOUNCER: But what about disposable flossers like this one – do you need a new one for every tooth area?

STEPHEN TYMPANICK, DDS: Run it under water, get off all the debris and then you start again. You don't need to use a new piece of floss for each quadrant; you can use the same piece for one.

ANNOUNCER: And don't forget to target all your teeth

STEPHEN TYMPANICK, DDS: People tend to be good at flossing in the front teeth and not so good in the back teeth and, unfortunately, the back teeth are the ones that need it more, because that's where we do all our mashing and chewing and where we tend to see periodontal disease progress faster, in the posterior areas of the mouth, back areas.

ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily!

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