Warren Melamed, D.D.S.: A helpful guide to proper flossing


At the end of a long day, most Americans simply want to relax and go to bed, a desire that often overpowers the practice of proper dental hygiene. Dentist Warren Melamed, D.D.S., explains why dental professionals put so much emphasis on daily flossing, and how you can properly floss your teeth at home.

According to a 2008 survey, 49% don’t floss their teeth every day, and 10% never floss at all. Despite urgings from dentists at yearly appointments, most people seem to not realize the importance of this vital aspect of tooth care. Dental professional Warren Melamed, D.D.S., reveals that many individuals confide that they simply can’t floss by themselves the way the dentist can, and therefore give up. But proper flossing needn’t be a mystifying activity!  While dentists admit that flossing can be the most difficult aspect of dental care, it’s also the most important. Some simple tips can greatly ease the daily flossing struggle.

Choose the right floss. Did you know that floss comes in two major categories?  Nylon floss is comprised of many different small strands of nylon, and can be given to fraying if the flosser has very tight junctures between their teeth. Nylon floss can be waxed or unwaxed, and may be offered in a variety of flavors. On the other hand, single-filament floss is made of the synthetic polymer polytetrafluoroethylene, and because it’s all one strand, wont fray between your teeth. Pre-manufactured flossing aids are also a valuable option for individuals with dexterity troubles, or who simply have difficulty fitting their hands in their mouths.

</a Warren Melamed, D.D.S.: Proper Flossing photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Use the right amount. The proper amount of floss is far greater than many unassuming flossers might think:  Warren Melamed, D.D.S., recommends about 18 inches to patients at his practice, or about one arm’s length. By twining this length around your fingers and unspooling it as you progress, you can ensure always having a clean span of floss for all of your teeth.

Master the movement. Use a gentle, back-and-forth, shoeshine motion to guide the floss around your teeth. Include a C-curve at the gum line to clean the upper portion of the tooth. Be careful not to snap the floss in and out of your teeth, as this may damage the gums and cause bleeding.

Invest the time. Through flossing requires about ten strokes on each tooth, which measures out to about two minutes. Additionally, to get the most benefit out of the activity, make sure you are flossing first and brushing your teeth afterward.


Warren Melamed, D.D.S., is the leader of Oral Health Management in Tennessee. He is an avid philanthropist in his area.