Yes, you can optimize your dental health and visit your dentist with confidence! Our team members Donna Greco, DMD and Laura Steinmetz, RDH provide answers to some of the most common questions on how to brush and floss. You’ve got this!
How can I learn to floss my teeth?
“Ask your friendly hygienist at your next appointment if he/she can give you a demonstration of proper floss technique. You can also try searching a YouTube video for assistance. If the video is made by an oral health company, the instructions are more likely to be correct and thorough,” explains Laura.
This video from the American Dental Association is just one of many available online.
What kind of floss should I use?
Laura says, “I tell my patients to use whatever type of floss they actually WILL use. Those with large hands who have difficulty flossing properly with string floss can try some of the pre-loaded floss picks with handles. If you love string flossing but have very hard-to-floss contacts, try a waxed floss that advertises being super slippery. Folks with braces can try a product called Super Floss—one end is a stiff piece of floss to get the string threaded through your brackets, and the rest of the floss is extra fluffy to pick up more pieces of debris.”
How and when should I teach my children to floss?
Dr. Greco advises that as soon as your children have teeth that touch each other (usually around age 18 months), you can start flossing their teeth as part of their regular oral care. Use the product that is easiest and most comfortable for you and your child. In addition to regular dental floss, there are special children’s flossers available in bright colors and animal shapes; any of these are fine. What’s most important is that you introduce the concept of flossing, whichever product you use.
With your coaching, your children can begin to try flossing on their own around age 3. It will take them some time to get used to it, so be patient and encouraging. Have them start by watching you or another adult. When children start learning to floss at this young age, they develop the motor skills they need, and become accustomed to good oral care routines.
However, it takes time for children to develop these motor skills—they may not master the art of flossing until age 12 or so. Again, patience is important. After your children have done their best, you can make sure their teeth are thoroughly clean by brushing and flossing again, as needed. You can do this easily by having your child lie on a couch or a bed with the top of their head toward you. You’ll be able to see everything in your child’s mouth, and that will help you to be thorough.
Helpful hint: Music, videos, and audiobooks are all great ways to distract your children while you finish up their brushing and flossing!
Read more recommendations from Dr. Greco on helping your child to have a healthy mouth.
Should I floss before or after I brush?
“Either is acceptable! Some people like to floss before brushing so that the interdental spaces are more accessible to toothpaste getting between the teeth,” says Laura.
Should I rinse my mouth after I brush my teeth?
Always rinse with water after brushing and flossing UNLESS the directions on your toothpaste specifically tell you not to rinse with water after brushing. Some toothpastes that are designed with higher fluoride content or higher anti-sensitivity content will instruct you to leave the toothpaste residue on your teeth for at least 30 minutes for best results.
Should I use my water flosser before or after I brush and floss?
As long as you use your water flosser once a day, there is no right or wrong time to use it. Water flossing before brushing can clear the way for toothpaste to adequately access all areas of the teeth and interdental spaces, so that your toothpaste gives you the best results.