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Keep Calm and Floss OnLife is busy, and most people find that it’s hard to make time to floss their teeth. Some floss only once in a while, and others, not at all. What these people fail to realize, however, is that the act of flossing just once a day significantly decreases their risk for gum disease and increases their ability to keep their teeth for a lifetime.

The Academy of General Dentistry suggests that people floss on a daily basis for two to three minutes, using one of the following techniques:

  1. The Spool Method Take an 18 inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of it tightly around your middle finger. Wrap the rest of the floss around your middle finger on the opposite hand, and use this finger to take up floss as it becomes soiled or frayed.
  2. The Loop Method Tie an 18 inch strand of floss into a circle bound with three knots. After placing all your fingers (except for your thumb) inside the loop, use your index fingers to guide the floss between your upper teeth. This is recommended more for individuals with lower dexterity.
  3. Pre-threaded Flossers Also known as floss holders, the use of pre-threaded flossers is an acceptable way to floss on a regular basis. This method is especially helpful for those with limited dexterity.

When flossing, avoid side to side motions. Flossing is much more effective when an up-and-down motion is used, forming a “C” on the side of each tooth. Flossing should not be painful, but for the first week or two, it may cause a small amount of sensitivity or bleeding. Talk to your dentist if pain or bleeding persists after flossing regularly for over two weeks.

Flossing is like putting money in the bank! It pays good dividends – especially as you continue to get older. Taking the time to floss now can make a huge difference in your oral health care in the future.