Uses of Dental Floss

The interproximal areas of teeth are the surfaces between two teeth. They’re usually hidden surfaces to the bristles of a brush thus leading to deposition of plaque and food debris causing different gum disease and cavity, which are called as gingival or periodontal disease and dental caries respectively.

View the area where two adjacent teeth contact, and apical down to where the gingival margin would most likely be (boxed area). Avoid mistaking caries in the region apical to the gingival margin, where the optical illusion cervical burnout is most likely to be appear..

People tend to suffer from different dental and gingival problems despite brushing their teeth twice a day. The probable causes may be improper brushing technique or not flossing their teeth, among others. Today we will provide introductory information related to dental floss, its technique and its importance.

Dental floss

Dental floss is one of the mechanical plaque control aids for removing plaque and biofilm from the interproximal tooth surfaces, preventing its accumulation on the teeth and adjacent gingival tissues. The American dental association (ADA) recommends using dental floss once per day to remove microbial plaque biofilm effectively. Various dental floss is available, and the type of floss to be used depends on personal preference. They may be of nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments, waxed or unwaxed, thick or thin and so on.

Dental floss has multiple functions. It removes plaque, biofilm, and food debris from the interproximal embrasure and under the portion of the fixed partial denture. It is also responsible for stimulating and massaging the interdental papillae. The dental floss acts as a vehicle for applying polishing agents or therapeutic agents to the interproximal and sub gingival area. Along with these functions, it helps in locating sub gingival calculus and deposits, overhanging margins of the restoration, and proximal caries lesions as well.

Flossing technique

Generally there are two methods of holding dental floss. They are the spool method and the circle or loop method.

Spool method

In the spool method, a floss of 12 to 18 inches is taken and held securely in the fingers or tied to a loop. Then, the floss is stretched tightly between the thumb and forefinger and is passed through contact areas in a firm Back and Forth motion. Once the floss is apical to the contact area, it is wrapped around the proximal surface. This curves the floss at the base of the tooth and form a C-shape and is now slipped gently under the marginal gingiva. In this way, floss has moved up to the contact area and move gently to the sulcus again in UP-AND-DOWN stroke two or three times. The same procedure is repeated through the whole detention, including the distal surface on the last tooth in each quadrant. When the working portion of the floss becomes dirty, a fresh part of the floss is taken.

Circle or loop method

In this in the circle or loop method, a 12 to 18 inches long dental floss is taken and a loop circle is made. Both ends are tied securely with three knots. All the fingers, except the thumb, are placed within the loop. Now, the floss is held tightly by both hands with about one to two inches of floss between the fingers of both hands.

Precautions while using dental floss

There are a few precautions that we need to take while using dental floss. we should not make quick snapping of the floss once it reaches the contact area because it may create a proximal groove in the gingiva and may injure the interdental gingiva.

Floss holder

Different types of floss holders, reusable floss tools, and disposable floss tools are available, which can simplify the manipulation of dental floss. It is helpful for patients lacking manual dexterity. Powered flossing devices are also available which may be easier for some patients, but it has limited use as it is not so effective in removing plaque biofilm compared to handheld floss.


Since tooth brushing alone is not sufficient to control gingival and periodontal disease, it is recommended to use dental floss once a day to remove microbial plaque biofilm and food debris preventing gingivitis, bad breath, and various proximal lesions and for maintaining optimum oral health status and a healthy smile.

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