There are two common methods for flossing, the “spool method” and the “loop method”.

How to floss a dental implant

The spool method is the most popular for those who do not have problems with stiff joints or fingers. The spool method works like this: Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around your middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the middle finger of your other hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Move the floss between your teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Maneuver the floss up and down several times forming a “C” shape around the dental implant corwn. While doing this, make sure you go below the gum line, where bacteria are known to collect heavily.

flossing dental implants

The loop method is often effective for children or adults with dexterity problems like arthritis. The loop method works like this: Break off about 18 inches of floss and form it into a circle. Tie it securely with two or three knots. Place all of your fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through your lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gum line and forming a “C” on the side of the tooth.
With either method of flossing, never “snap” the floss because this can cut your gums around the dental implant. Make sure that you gently scrape the side of each dental implant with the floss.

Your gums may be tender or even bleed for the first few days after flossing – a condition that generally heals within a few days.

What is flossing a dental implant?

Flossing is a method for removing bacteria and other debris under dental implant crowns that cannot be reached by a toothbrush. It generally entails a very thin piece of synthetic cord you insert and move up and down between the sides of two adjoining teeth.

Why is flossing a dental implant important?

Many dentists believe that flossing is the single most important dental implant weapon against plaque. In any event, daily flossing is an excellent and proven method for complementing your brushing routine and helping to prevent peri-implatitis and other dental implant problems later in life. It also increases blood circulation in your gums. Floss removes plaque and debris that stick to your implant crown and gums.

How often to floss a dental implant

Floss at least once every day. Like brushing, flossing should take about three minutes and can easily be done while doing another activity, such as watching television. Do not attempt to floss your dental implant crown while operating a motor vehicle or other machinery.

How to Clean Dental Implants

An estimated over 5 million people in the United States have dental implants. For people who have lost one or more teeth, dental implants are a healthy option due to the way they bond with natural bone to effectively support replacement teeth. Dental implants also offer the added benefit of allowing replacement teeth to look, feel, and function like natural teeth.

Here is a guide on how to clean dental implants.

1. Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush only

Soft bristles are less likely to damage your gums or cause bleeding and are just as effective as medium or hard bristles at removing tartar and plaque. Electric toothbrushes are shown to disrupt and remove bacteria from teeth more effectively than manual toothbrushes due to the way they generate a higher number of brush strokes than the human hand. Regardless of whether you choose an electric or manual toothbrush, make sure it has soft bristles.

2. Brush Twice Per Day

Brushing in the morning after you wake up eliminates morning breath and removes bacteria that has built up in the mouth overnight. Brushing in the evening before bedtime helps remove bacteria that has built up throughout the day and reduces the risk for plaque buildup and decay overnight. Many dentists encourage brushing after every meal, or anytime during the day as needed to remove food debris and bacteria.

3. Use a Water Flosser

Also known as an oral irrigator or dental water jet, a water flosser disrupts and remove bacteria in pocket depths that measure up to 6 mm deep. Many water flossers come with rubber-tip stimulators and other attachments designed to accommodate sensitive gums and effectively clean hard-to-reach areas between teeth. Many dentists recommend water flossers over dental floss, since some brands of floss can shed particles that contribute to peri-implantitis. Be sure to use the water flosser first since you don’t want to blow away the fluoride toothpaste that is introduced during brushing and flossing.

4. Use Crown and Bridge Floss for implants

Crowns and Bridge floss is specially designed to scrub under and around dental implants. It has two stiff nylon ends and a fuzzy middle which gently cleans the dental implant surface and the porcelain that touches the gumline. The stiff ends enable you to insert the floss between the dental implants at the gumline and pull it through to the other side. You can then lean it against the implant surface and rub it side to side. It’s a good idea to use this floss after brushing while the toothpaste residue is still in your mouth. This enables you to distribute the fluoride around the implant, which helps prevent unwanted bacterial growth.

5. Use Low-Abrasive Toothpaste. No baking soda

Use toothpaste that lacks abrasive ingredients such as baking soda or stain-remover agents, since these ingredients may wear on acrylic and remove glaze from porcelain implants. Look for toothpaste specifically made for use on dental implants, or ask your dentist for toothpaste recommendations.

6. Brush Under and Around the Dental Implant Crown

Bacteria and plaque may accumulate under and around the implant crown to increase the risk for peri-implantitis. To reach these areas, try using an angled-neck toothbrush or an interdental brush with a slim head—especially if your implant is located at the back of your mouth.