By Last Updated: July 3, 2023

Did you know that the foundation of oral health is not dental visits? While it is one of the key factors in keeping your mouth healthy and your smile bright, your dentist can only do so much. After all, a trip to the dental office for routine check-ups and oral prophylaxis is recommended at least twice a year only. That’s only 2 out of the 365 days in a year!

The secret to a lifetime of healthy smiles is excellent at-home oral hygiene. This includes proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Your diet also plays a significant role as your nutrition can help keep your overall health in good shape.

However, it is not enough that you know about oral hygiene — how you do it is what matters. The process has to be effective and consistent to work. Remaster your oral hygiene basics with this quick read about flossing, brushing, and everything else in between:

Oral Hygiene Care

The basic at-home oral hygiene routine should include three steps: brushing, flossing, and mouth rinsing. These should be done 2 – 3 times a day, depending on your dentist’s advice.


Use a soft-bristled toothbrush angled at 45 degrees against the teeth. Then, gently move the toothbrush back and forth in short strokes. For the front teeth, brush up down and side to side. Use fluoride toothpaste during toothbrushing for stronger, healthier teeth.


Dental floss is a thin, wax or unwaxed, cord that cleans interdentally or between two teeth. The strand is carefully slipped between the teeth and guided down the gum line and curved against the teeth to remove plaque, debris, and dirt. Flossing removes plaque that your toothbrush cannot reach.

Mouth rinsing

Aside from fresh breath, a mouth rinse may also help prevent gum and periodontal disease. Opt for those with chlorhexidine as an active ingredient. This fights bacteria that may cause dental problems. Swish in the mouth as directed, then avoid eating or drinking for the next 30 minutes to allow the rinse to settle in.

How to floss?

Now that we have discussed the vague details, let us now dive deeper into Flossing 101. The key is to practice, be consistent, and know the effective ways to properly do it.

Here are 5 easy steps to efficient flossing:

  1. Break off a strand of the floss, usually the length from the tip of your index finger to your elbow should be enough.
  2. Wind each end of the floss around each middle finger until you have a comfortable length that you can easily control.
  3. Hold the floss with your index fingers and thumbs as you slide it in the space between two teeth.
  4. Make sure you reach down the gum line, then curve it in a C-shape against each tooth. This helps to scoot under the gum pockets to thoroughly clean your teeth.
  5. Slide the floss out gently. Repeat each step until all spaces are cleaned. With each space, use a clean section of the floss.

Do I need to floss?

Unfortunately, most people stop at toothbrushing when they do their mouth care at home. This should not be the case! Flossing is an integral part of your routine. It helps to reach areas in between your teeth that otherwise are difficult to or cannot be reached by your regular toothbrush. Flossing also reaches down the gum line to remove plaque hidden underneath the gum pockets.

If plaque and food debris are left stuck between the teeth and in the gums for a long time, it can cause several oral health concerns. This includes decay, cavities, and gum disease. These are irreversible dental diseases that are highly preventable by simply incorporating flossing into your daily oral hygiene routine.

What happens if you do not floss?

The most common concern when you do not floss is gum disease or gingivitis. Proper flossing should reach the gum line. Then, curve the floss strand against the tooth so you can clean the area underneath the gums. Doing so removes the plaque build-up that is tucked under the gums.

Dental plaque is an irritant that can harm the gums. If plaque build-up under the gums is not removed, signs and symptoms of gingivitis will gradually show. Such as soft and tender gums, gum inflammation, bleeding gums, and bad breath. Further left untreated, gum disease will turn into periodontal disease. This can harm the bones surrounding your teeth. If left to progress, bacteria will eat away bone and cause tooth loss.

Aside from gum disease, you also have to worry about tooth decay. Acid from plaque can cause the breakdown of tooth enamel to cause decay and cavity. You can usually see this on two teeth, with decay starting from one point on adjacent teeth and spreading from there.

When is the best time to floss?

Consistency is key when it comes to oral hygiene. As recommended by the Journal of Periodontology, flossing should be done immediately after toothbrushing and at least 2 to 3 times a day. This provides a whole mouth clean for your teeth and gums.

What are the alternatives to flossing?

Traditional flossing using a piece of dental floss is always the best option to practice good oral hygiene care. However, this may not apply to everyone. Here are other options you can consider if flossing is not possible:

  • Interdental brush – this is mostly recommended for people with braces. Because they cannot slide the floss between the teeth due to the wire, an interdental brush can be used instead. This has a handle and a tiny brush at the end that can directly clean the remaining plaque.
  • Water flossers – Powered water flossers can also be a great alternative. This uses water pressure to wash away plaque and debris. They are generally straightforward to use and are highly effective in preventing gum and periodontal problems.

Preventive Dentistry with Springbank Hill Dental

Effective flossing can take a lot of effort to perfect, but the benefits you can get from are worth it. Incorporate it into your daily habits and before you know it, you have already mastered how to properly do it.

Learn more about Springbank Hill Dental’s preventive dentistry program targeted to prevent and maintain oral hygiene. This includes routine check-ups, teeth cleaning and fluoride treatment, and patient education. Our dentists are trained in providing efficient hygiene tips for patients of all ages so you can continue proper oral care at home. Book a visit with us today!