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Oral Care Guide for Teens - Oral Care Tips - Tooth cleaning strategy - Clean the adjacent tooth surfaces by flossing

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Toothbrushing cannot clean the adjacent surfaces of teeth. If we want to remove the plaque accumulated on the adjacent tooth surfaces, we must use dental floss daily.

Photograph showing that abundant plaque is accumulated on the adjacent surfaces of upper and lower front tooth.
Plaque accumulated on the adjacent tooth surfaces

Flossing technique:
 
Animation showing the use of thumbs and the forefingers of both hands to hold a portion of dental floss, leaving about 2 cm in between.
1. Use a piece of dental floss which is approximately 20-25 cm long. Tie both ends to make a loop. Use the thumbs and the forefingers of both hands to hold the floss, leaving about 2 cm of floss in between.
Animation showing a sawing motion to pull the floss into the interdental space of lower teeth.
2. Use a sawing motion to slide the floss into the interdental space.
Animation continued the previous motion that the floss is wrapped around a tooth making a C shape and is gently slid up and down against the tooth. Then the floss is wrapped around another adjacent surface of the tooth to repeat the up and down motions.
3. Wrap around one tooth making a "C" shape and gently pull down to the deepest part of the gingival sulcus, and then slide it up and down against the tooth. Then wrap around the adjacent tooth and repeat the up and down motions.
 
4. Clean all the other adjacent tooth surfaces in the same way.

Points to note
Please use a new part of floss every time as the used floss was contaminated with bacteria already.
Video display: Flossing method
 

Method of using floss holder:
 
Animation showing the floss portion of a floss holder being moved left and right between two teeth and slowly slid towards the gingival margin.

1. Move the floss holder left and right and slowly slide the floss towards the gingival margin. Pull the floss tightly against one of the adjacent tooth surfaces.
Animation continued from the previous motion showing the floss portion of the floss holder being wrapped around an adjacent tooth surface making a C shape in up and down motions.
2.
Start from the deepest part of the gingival sulcus, gently slide the floss up and down to clean the adjacent tooth surface.
Animation continued from the previous motion showing the floss portion of the floss holder being wrapped around another adjacent tooth surface of the same tooth making a C shape.
3. Pull the floss tightly against the other adjacent tooth surface.
Animation continued from the previous motion showing the same floss portion moving up and downs for a few times.
4. Use the same technique, starting from the deepest part of the gingival sulcus, gently slide the floss up and down to clean the other adjacent tooth surface.
 
5.
Clean all the other adjacent tooth surfaces in the same way.
Points to note
If there is a wide gap between the neighbouring teeth, an interdental brush may be used instead of dental floss.

Video display: Use of an interdental brush

 

Solutions to problems in using dental floss
 
  • Difficult to control the dental floss
    The further the distance between the two fingers holding the floss, the more difficult it will be to control it. Therefore, you should keep the distance between the fingers to be about 2 cm and you can tighten up the floss when flossing. This will help improve the situation. You can start flossing on the front teeth, after mastering the skill, you can then try flossing on the posterior teeth.

  • Difficult to clean the posterior teeth
    To clean the adjacent tooth surfaces of posterior teeth, you will need to use the forefingers to control the floss inside the mouth.

  • Improper use of dental floss causes injury to the gingivae (gums)
  • Correct use of dental floss will not cause any damage to the gingivae. You have to slowly “pull” the dental floss into the interdental space, pull the floss taut against one side of the adjacent tooth surfaces, start from the deepest part of the gingival sulcus, and slide the floss up and down to clean the surface. This will not injure the gingival tissue.

  • Difficult to slide the floss into the interdental space
    This can be caused by the accumulation of calculus. The situation will be improved once the calculus has been removed by scaling. Remember to brush and floss your teeth daily after the calculus has been removed.

 
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