Tips on How to Floss Your Teeth

(Have braces? Check out our tips for flossing with braces here!)

All of us have heard that we should floss our teeth but many of us are unsure how to floss properly. Learning how to floss your teeth properly is more than part of a good oral hygiene program. Flossing can remove particles, bacteria and plaque from areas of the teeth that cannot be reached with brushing and rinsing alone. The following tips on how to floss your teeth can help you to get started on a lifetime of this healthy habit. So the next time you find yourself in the dentist chair and are asked if you have been flossing, you can smile and say, “Yes, I have”.

Start Big, Floss Small – You should start with approximately 18″ of floss, but only a small portion of the floss will be between your teeth at any given time. Wind part of the floss around the middle finger on each hand and hold the floss taught between your index fingers and thumbs. The working area of the floss should only be approx. 2″ in length.

Keep it Clean – As you are flossing, continue to move the floss so you are working with a clean, new section. This will keep you from reintroducing bacteria into the mouth.

Work Both Sides – Work the floss in a back and forth motion between the teeth until it reaches the gum line. Gently pull the floss to one side and work it back out again with the same, back and forth motion. Work the floss back between the same two teeth again and bring it out with the pressure against the other tooth.

Be Gentle – If you meet resistance or if you find it difficult to get the floss to the gum line, be persistent but gentle. Never force the floss into place or snap it to the gum line. Doing so could cause damage to the gum tissue and may cut it.