How to use dental floss

Woman using dental floss

A frequent question dentists ask is “Do you floss?” This is an important question because flossing is a part of a good oral hygiene routine. It removes plaque from places that toothbrushes struggle to reach. Therefore, we advise all our patients to floss as part of their own oral hygiene routines. In the post, we’ll show you to floss properly.

How to floss

Break off about half a metre of floss (i.e. about 20 inches). Wind some around one finger of each hand. Hold the floss in one hand with your thumb and forefinger. Do the same with the other hand, leaving about an inch of floss between each hand.

Use a gentle rocking motion to manoeuvre the floss into the space between two of your teeth. Bring the floss up to your gum line. When you reach the gum line, curve the floss against one of the teeth then gently bring the floss down, scraping the side of the tooth as you do so. Repeat on the second tooth. Then remove the floss and repeat the entire procedure for the rest of your teeth.

Flossing tips

Here are some of our top tips for flossing:

  • Don’t neglect your back teeth. We know that the back teeth are the hardest to floss, but they are still important. Dentists usually see more cavities in the back teeth because patients neglect them.
    To help you remember which teeth you have already flossed, it helps to keep to a regular pattern. For example, you could start with the top teeth and work left to right.
  • Don’t be too aggressive or you could harm your gums. Be gentle.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist to show you how to floss properly.

My gums are bleeding – help!

Don’t worry. A little bleeding is normal when you first start flossing. This is because your gums are not yet used to the floss. Keep flossing as normal and you should see the bleeding stop after a few days. However, if your gums still bleed after a few days, see your dentist and they can check if everything is okay.

What if I find flossing too difficult?

If you find flossing difficult, then try one of these alternatives to floss:

  • Dental tape. This is a thicker version of floss, which makes it easier to hold.
  • Floss picks. A floss pick is a thread of floss attached to a handle. This makes it easy to use because the handle gives you something to hold on to. However, floss picks are single-use and can therefore quickly become expensive.
  • An interdental brush. This is a special type of toothbrush designed specifically to clean between teeth. However, the size between your teeth needs to be big enough for the brush to fit into. If your teeth are too small for an interdental brush, then try floss picks or dental tape instead.

Posted in: General Dentistry

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