A Trick for Effectively Flossing Under a Retainer

Those who have a permanent retainer know the most challenging task posed by it is, keeping it clean. Retainers tied at the back of your teeth makes your teeth look good and serve their purpose very well without any extra help. However, they have their own disadvantages as well. They tend to gather plaque and need you to invest more effort and time for flossing.

You can floss your permanent retainers attached to every tooth in three different ways. In the first method, you can direct floss using little plastic needles between the teeth and beneath the retainer wire. Once you get the floss beneath the wire, you can direct it up and down the sides of the nearby teeth to get rid of plaque as usual. However, between flossing every two teeth held to the retainer, you would have to re-thread the floss.

In the second method, you go for the precut floss pieces, known as “Superfloss”, available at most discount chains and pharmacies for this purpose. It makes your job easier as one of its ends which is plasticized, is stiff. This allows you to easily thread the floss between the teeth.

In the third method, you use “picks” or small brushes which fit between the teeth. A variation in this is the Soft-picks. These do not harm the enamel as the manufacturer has used only rubber and plastic to produce this.

The following is a trick used by Dr. Greg Jorgensen, a board-certified orthodontist practicing privately in orthodontics in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He has discovered this trick by himself during his 25 years of specialty practice. Here it goes-

1. Make a loop in your floss approximately five or six inches from the end.

2. Slide the loop over your two lower front teeth in such a way that the floss’ two ends are flowing out of your mouth. That is, your floss gets in between central incisor and left lateral, runs at behind both centrals, and then gets out between your central incisor and right lateral. Now, the floss loop is around the teeth and over the retainer.

3. Hold the ends flowing out of the mouth, and tug downward till the loop of floss “snaps” beneath the retainer at the back of your teeth.

4. Now, leave the shorter floss end and slowly tug the longer one till it comes out of the area between the teeth. Now, the floss will uncoil and point beneath your tongue.

5. Now, get hold of the short end and tug it behind your mouth while coil it around your fingers as you typically floss your teeth.

6. At this point, you will have the floss around your fingers and below the wire. This will facilitate the easily flossing by upward and downward movement against the sides of the two adjacent teeth.

7. Now that you have finished flossing the two teeth you are dealing with, you have to move to the next two teeth. You need to apply a “sleight of hand” technique here. Grab both the ends of the floss, raise the front half up and out of the freshly-flossed “embrasure” between the teeth, slip it into the area between the adjacent two teeth, and then tug it back down in between.

8. Follow this procedure to floss all the teeth held by the permanent retainer.

9. When it is time to remove the floss, leave one of the ends and pull it through.

Thanks for this clever tactic from Dr. Greg Jorgensen which enables permanent retainer wearers to keep their teeth healthy and clean without spending a lot of time and money on Superfloss or floss threaders.

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