By John Webb, contributing writer
An important part of dental hygiene that is often skipped is flossing. With the proper techniques, you can greatly reduce your chances of gum disease and tooth decay by simply adding this step to your daily routine.
Ideally, you should floss before every brushing, but if this is not convenient, at least floss before your final brushing of the evening when getting ready for bed.
The first step is choosing the type of floss. Dental floss comes in two main types, nylon and PTFE.
Generally speaking, nylon is the cheaper alternative and comes in either a waxed or unwaxed variety, and there is an assortment of flavors available; some may even include fluoride.
The disadvantage to nylon floss however, is that due to its makeup of many thin fibers, it is prone to splitting or breaking when used on teeth that are tighter together.
On the other hand, PTFE dental floss is made from a single filament making it far less likely to break, and allowing it to slide between even tight teeth easier.
If you find that flossing with your hands is awkward, there are also several types of floss holders on the market now, including disposable ones that make it easier to floss during the day when you are away from home.
To begin flossing pull out approximately 18 inches of the dental floss and wrap it around your two index fingers, leaving 1 to 2 inches in between.
With a gentle back in forth action, work the strand of floss between two of your teeth.
Rub the floss from front to back as you slide it along the side of each tooth, working your way from the top to just beneath the gum line.
Take care while doing this to not cut into the gums too deeply or snapping it through the teeth as this can cause bleeding.
Once you finish one tooth, advance the floss on your fingers to move a new, unused portion to the gap between your hands and clean the next tooth.
Develop a pattern to floss your teeth, whether it is clockwise, counterclockwise, front to back, top to bottom, or whatever works for you. This will help ensure you get all your teeth and don't miss any.
When you have finished, brush your teeth and rinse as normal.