How to Floss Correctly – Quick and Simple Instructions

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Flossing – there’s a reason your dentist is pestering you about it. Learning how to floss properly could save you hours in the dentist’s chair down the road. It is definitely worth making a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.

If you are a really good brusher, that means you can skip flossing, right? Wrong. Just brushing your teeth won’t be enough, although using one of the best electric toothbrushes certainly helps. Flossing is the only way to remove all bacteria from your teeth and prevent serious dental problems. It is an essential part of dental care, no matter how well you brush your teeth.

Why flossing goes beyond brushing

“A toothbrush can only brush the outside, inside and biting surfaces of the teeth – it cannot physically get between the teeth,” says Dr Saul Konviser, general dentist at Montagu Dental. “Flossing is the only alternative because it physically disrupts the buildup of plaque at the point of contact between the two teeth.”

People who neglect to floss often see significant dental problems later in life. “The most common place where patients develop tooth decay is between the teeth, where the plaque stagnates or gets stuck,” says Dr. Konviser.

Even if your teeth are very close to each other or very far from each other, food and bacteria can still get stuck in these little crevices. It can be hard to see, which is why it’s important to floss, even if you think you don’t need it.

Flossing is even more important as we age

Flossing is important at any age. Children should start flossing as soon as they have the dexterity to do so, and adults should floss as well. In fact, it becomes more and more important to floss as you get older. “Statistically, after the age of 30, the frequency of periodontal disease is higher,” says Dr. Casey Lau, chief dentist at Elims. But why is that?

“Changes in hormones, medications and even routine changes make women vulnerable to gum disease and cavities,” says Dr. Yvette Carrillo, periodontist and implant surgeon. “Flossing between teeth removes food and plaque and prevents inflammation and breakdown. “

How to Floss Correctly


how to floss

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Flossing should be part of your bedtime routine if you want to maintain good oral hygiene and keep your mouth healthy. It doesn’t have to be a long or difficult process.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children and adults floss once a day and brush their teeth twice a day. Follow these simple steps and it will soon become a natural part of your day.

How to properly floss according to experts:


  • Break about 20-30 cm of thread– you will want it to be long enough to establish a firm grip with your middle finger, wrapping the ends of the dental floss around them.
  • Hold about 2 inches of dental floss firmly-between the thumbs and forefinger and wrap it around two teeth.
  • Make a “C” with dental floss– pull the thread up.
  • Gently rub the dental floss between the teeth-but be careful not to rub too vigorously as this can damage the gum area.
  • Floss in a zigzag motion– covering the length of the tooth.
  • Use a new piece of dental floss– as you go from tooth to tooth.
  • Make sure you floss on both sides of the tooth– and don’t forget the back!

When choosing your floss, a thicker floss is usually better for deep cleaning. “If your oral condition is generally fairly healthy, you may want to try flossing that ‘catches’ plaque better,” says Dr. Lau. “I generally recommend waxed dental floss. I also recommend the thicker one that you are comfortable with, as most of the time people go for a thin floss that doesn’t really clean the teeth.

You can supplement your flossing routine with other dental care, such as regular visits to the hygienist, and try techniques such as oil extraction, which is believed to help keep the teeth in shape. clean and strong teeth when performed regularly.

Common barriers to flossing and how to fix them


We all know how important it is to floss, but what if flossing is especially difficult for you? A lot of people face issues when using dental floss that causes them to want to give up together. But this is not an option. Fortunately, there are solutions to the obstacles.

How to floss with braces

woman with braces

(Image credit: Getty Images)

  • Use a threader“In order to floss effectively, the use of additional tools such as floss threaders makes it easier to floss around braces and effectively target areas between teeth,” says Dr. Carrillo. To use a threader, all you need to do is slip the thread through the tool, then use it to pass under the metal part of the suspenders.
  • Using a water flosser– “Water flossers also make it easier to remove food from orthodontic appliances,” notes Dr. Carrillo. Water flossers spray a thin, high-pressure jet of water between your teeth. Since you don’t use a rope, you don’t have to worry about tricky maneuvers.
  • Using interdental brushes– “We encourage our patients with orthodontic appliances to use interdental brushes to place themselves between the teeth and make a good exfoliation of the gums“, explains Dr Konviser. To use an interdental brush, simply push it between your teeth, above or below your braces. You can also use it to clean the braces themselves.

Flossing with braces can be a bit of a challenge, but a few considerations mean it doesn’t have to be a problem. If you’re starting your journey with braces and want to learn more about the types of braces, our Invisalign vs Braces guide explains the main pros and cons.

How to floss with sensitive gums

  • Floss gently“If done correctly, flossing shouldn’t be a painful experience,” says Dr. Konviser. “I just want to make sure that patients don’t try to force the dental floss too deep into the gums and traumatize themselves. All you need to do is spread the dental floss just below the edge of the gum line, as this is where plaque often builds up.
  • Choose textured yarn-selecting a different dental floss might also solve your problem. “I prefer dental floss that has a certain texture,” recommends Dr. Lau. “If you find a dental floss that is more of a weave, you will get a ‘massage’ of the gums,” which may seem less harsh if you experience sensitivity. You can always ask your dentist for recommendations for softer dental floss.
  • Consult your dentist– According to Dr Lau, constant sensitivity while using dental floss could be a sign of infection. If the discomfort or bleeding persists after flossing regularly for several days, it may be time to see your dentist to rule out the possibility of infection. However, this is rare, and “usually the answer is over flossing,” says Dr. Lau.

Why do my gums bleed when I floss?


“Bleeding gums are usually a sign of unhealthy gums,” says Dr. Lau. “It’s most often a sign of gingivitis. It might seem counterintuitive, but if your gums bleed when you floss, it’s probably because you’re not flossing enough. To combat this, adopt a routine of flossing every day and the bleeding should stop. If not, it may be time to see your dentist.

“If patients notice regular bleeding from the gums, it should be a little red flag to suggest that there may be early signs of gum disease,” warns Dr Konviser. “I would therefore recommend regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist for professional cleaning and additional oral hygiene instruction and support.” Your flossing technique may be failing. The dentist or hygienist can show you what you are doing wrong and how to improve your dental floss.


Whatever obstacles you have with flossing, you can overcome them with helpful tools or modifications to your flossing technique. Either way, flossing once a day is essential to your oral health.

woman & home thanks Dr Saul Konviser for Montagu Dental, Casey Lau from Elims, and Dr Yvette Carrillo for their time and expertise.



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