We’re not sure if it’s great planning or great coincidence that National Floss Day is always scheduled right after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest food holidays of the year, but either way, dental floss deserves the accolades. For such a tiny piece of string, it has a huge impact on your oral health. But are you using it properly – or enough? Here’s how to get the best use of your spool.
Pull out about 18 inches of floss – that’s roughly the length of your hand to your elbow – and wind most of it around your index or middle finger on one hand. Wind the rest of the floss around the index or middle finger of the other hand, leaving a few inches between your fingers.
Hold the floss between your thumbs and forefingers, and then gently slide it between teeth, holding it tight against the side of each tooth so it forms a “C” shape. Run it up and down each tooth and even below the gum line. Repeat for each tooth – and don’t forget to floss the backside of your back teeth as well. (Confused? Check out our visual flossing guide.)
You should floss daily. A good, thorough session should take two to three minutes.
Think floss is just for cleaning your teeth? No way. The versatile string has an amazing number of uses. Here are just a few.
- Slicing bread or cake. Wind unflavored floss around each of your index fingers, leaving enough between them to slice straight down across your baked goods. You’ll get a perfect, clean cut!
- Tying shoes. If a broken shoelace surprises you at an inopportune time, dental floss will work until you find a replacement lace.
- Holding hair. A short length of dental floss can hold your hair back if you’ve misplaced or snapped a ponytail holder.
- Hanging pictures. Using floss to hang pictures instead of braided wire can save the paint on your wall from scratches and nicks.
Whether you use it for the tried-and-true reason or for these clever purposes, floss definitely belongs in your little bag of tricks.