Don’t Be Strung Up By Floss: How To Guide For Flossing

Knowing how to floss properly is essential for keeping good oral hygiene. Flossing removes plaque that can develop between teeth and helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by cleaning the tight spaces in between teeth that your toothbrush can't reach. Take the time to learn how to floss properly to ensure that your teeth are healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Floss Once a Day

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing your teeth once a day. If you get into the habit of flossing before you go to bed at night, you won't need to worry about flossing more than that. Excessive flossing is ineffective and can actually cause damage and irritation to sensitive gum tissue.

Use a Gentle Touch

It's important to be gentle when flossing. Many people apply a lot of pressure or use a vigorous sawing motion, thinking this will get their teeth clean. But this kind of forceful flossing can lead to bleeding gums. Instead, floss lightly. Do not force or snap the floss against the gums. Try to use the side of the tooth to slide the floss gently into place.

Know the Proper Technique

Instead of using too much force or flossing excessively, flossing according to the proper method will leave your teeth sparkling clean pain-free.

  • Dispense about one-and-a-half feet (18 inches) of floss.
  • Hold a short amount of floss between your thumb and fingers, and insert it between your teeth.
  • Curve the floss around each tooth in a "C" shape.
  • Gently move the floss using a slow back-and-forth motion and up and down, including under the gumline. Be careful not to apply too much pressure.
  • Use a new section of floss for each tooth.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.