Proper Flossing Technique

image of girl with dental flossFlossing. Many people can be intimidated by it. How much floss do I use? How do I actually get that string in between my teeth? Is it supposed to hurt?

Proper flossing on a daily basis should not hurt. In fact, if you do it well, it should help decrease the risk of any tooth or mouth pain you might have in the future!

If you needed more motivation: You might be surprised to know that, if you don’t floss, you may be neglecting to clean more than one-third of your tooth surface!

When you floss, you are removing plaque from the surfaces of your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque is a bacteria that grows on your teeth. If you don’t remove this plaque, about 24 to 36 hours later, the plaque develops into tartar, also called calculus, which is so hard that it can only be removed by a professional cleaning by your dentist.

Let’s get flossing!

1. Make sure your piece of dental floss (or dental tape) is long enough, at least 18 inches but about the distance from your shoulder to your hand would be better.

2. Wrap the floss around the index and middle fingers of both hands, with a few inches between your fingers.

3. Decide where to start: either start at your molars on one side and work your way around to the other side, or start in the middle and work your way back to your molars.

4. Slide the floss between two teeth in a semi-circle pattern. Gently slide the floss along the entire side of each tooth. Think of wiping the floss against the whole side of one tooth, up and down all the way to your gum line, about two or three times.

5. Floss between every pair of teeth, making sure to gently floss each side of every tooth.

6. It may take some stretching, but make sure to floss both sides of your rear molars as well.

7. As needed, unwrap the floss from your fingers and rewrap to use a clean, un-snagged part of the floss.

8. When done flossing, brush your teeth gently.

Proper flossing technique can be demonstrated by a dental professional, who can also answer all your other important flossing questions.

Daily brushing and flossing can lead to less tooth decay, fewer cavities, less plaque and tartar, less gum disease, and more enjoyable and less painful dental visits!