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woman flossing teeth
toothbrush in glass and floss

At Abougoush Family Dental Care in Calgary, dental floss is an important part of our toolkit for maintaining a healthy smile. While brushing your teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, it can’t reach between teeth. Unfortunately, these areas are highly susceptible to decay and may lead to periodontal (gum) disease. Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone. Flossing should be a major part of your oral health routine. We recommend flossing once a day after brushing.

Flossing Fights Plaque – Why This Is Important

Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gumline, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease. Flossing is one way to remove plaque from your teeth, especially in the areas your toothbrush can’t reach. At Abougoush Family Dental Care in Calgary, dental floss instructions are available. We can show patients of any age the best way to floss to effectively fight plaque.

How to floss properly:

Here are some steps for properly flossing your teeth:


Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.


Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.


Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth. Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

How to Floss Properly with a Permanent Retainer:

A permanent retainer is often attached to your teeth after you have been treated with braces. This permanent retainer keeps your teeth from moving back into the position they were in before straightening. There are two types of permanent retainer: one that is bonded to each tooth and one that is bonded to the two teeth at each end of the retainer, usually the canines. Flossing with a permanent retainer can be very difficult. Here are some ways to floss your teeth:

Bonded to Each Tooth

  • Floss with a threader. You loop the floss into the threader, not unlike threading a large need. You then push the threader underneath the wire of the permanent retainer in order to move the floss into position to move between your teeth.
  • Use “Superfloss.” This floss has one end precut with a piece of plastic that is used to thread the floss between your teeth. It works similarly to a threader.
  • Try small brushes or “picks.” A small brush or pick may be able to reach into the areas underneath the permanent retainer. Most of these brushes and picks are made from plastic or rubber so they shouldn’t harm your tooth enamel.

Bonded to Only End Teeth

  • Use “Superfloss.” Just push the floss up underneath your permanent retainer to get it into position. You can then proceed to floss all of the teeth between the two that are bonded to the retainer. Be sure to clean the wire of the retainer as well.
  • Floss with a threader. Even though a permanent retainer bonded at the ends is much easier to floss around than a retainer bonded to each tooth, sometimes difficulties arise. The retainer may be positioned really close to your gums, making it nearly impossible to thread floss normally underneath the wire. In these cases, a threader can be used to push the floss up underneath the wire to reach the teeth to floss.

If you have any questions about flossing, be sure to ask during your next dental appointment. Are you overdue for a checkup? Give us a call today!


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