Skip links

How to Use Dental Floss Correctly

Dental floss is designed to remove more plaque, food debris and bacteria from the mouth that normal brushing isn’t able to remove. Flossing should be a daily part of your dental regime and is a great way to prevent bad breath and keep your teeth, gums and mouth clean.

With that being said, many patients admit to not flossing as regularly as they should, and those who very rarely floss are far more likely to avoid visiting the dentist for regular checkups.

If you are regularly flossing – that’s great news! However, what you might not be aware of is the best way to floss in order to make your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, which may be evident if you find your gums bleeding and becoming sore after flossing.

Looking to find the best way to floss your teeth? We’ve rounded up some of our top tips to perfect your flossing technique.

Correct Flossing Techniques

As you’ll be putting your fingers into your mouth, we do advise you to wash your hands before flossing to prevent bacteria or dirt from finding its way into your mouth.

Choosing the Best Type of Floss

Before you begin, you should choose the right floss for you. There are different types of floss available, including dental tape, standard floss and super flosses. Which type of floss is best for you will usually depend on whether you have braces, bridges, gaps between the teeth and of course which type of floss you prefer to use.

  • Dental tape is best suited for patients with braces, gaps or larger spaces between the teeth with its broader and ribbon-like structure, making it easier to handle. 
  • Standard floss is the most common type of floss with a thin nylon strand that can easily fit between the teeth. This type of floss usually comes with a mint flavour but can be unflavoured too. Standard floss is better suited for crowded teeth or those that are closer together.
  • Super floss is also well suited for patients with gaps, braces or bridges with its stiffened end making it easier to floss around these areas.

Preparing Your Floss

You’ll want to start by unwinding the floss so you have around 45 cm (equivalent to 18 inches long) of floss. One mistake patients make when flossing their teeth is by using too little, meaning that they are using the same segment of floss to clean each area in the mouth.

Prepare your floss by wrapping either end around both of your index fingers so that you have a good grip. You can also choose to use your index finger instead if that feels more comfortable.

Be Gentle

Gently slide the floss between the teeth in a zigzag motion using a clean segment of the floss. Take your time and try not to rush otherwise you can damage your gums and you’ll be more likely to experience bleeding and swollen gums.

Poor flossing can result in complications, so if you are finding that your gums are bleeding or you experience discomfort, you should make an appointment to talk to your dentist. 

Manoeuvre the Floss

Manoeuvre the floss around the sides of the tooth and slide the floss up and down against the surface and gum line. As you wrap the floss around each tooth, make a ‘C’ shape and gently pull the floss upwards to the top of the tooth. Stay in control of the floss and avoid letting the floss snap between the teeth.

As you move from one tooth to the next, use your thumb as a guide to unroll a fresh segment of the floss rather than using the same segment again. Be sure to reach around both sides of the tooth and reach the back of the tooth too. 

Food particles can very easily become lodged under the gum line and in gaps where teeth are missing, so it’s crucial to gently brush these areas and floss between them every day.

Reaching the Back of the Mouth

Flossing teeth at the back of the mouth can be difficult when they are harder to reach and clean than the teeth at the front. As the back teeth have ridges and grooves to help you chew and bite, they are more likely to increase your risk of cavities and bacteria as bacteria and food particles can be collected. Be sure to clean around the back teeth with your toothbrush and dental floss every day. If you do struggle to reach the back teeth when flossing, we do recommend using disposable floss handles.

Water Flossers

Struggling to floss with braces? While we do recommend using dental tape or super floss if you have braces, using a water flosser can also be a great option instead. Water flossers use water and pressure to remove built-up plaque and food from between the teeth and are therefore easy to use if you’re trying to clean between brackets and wires.

Even if you aren’t wearing braces and just simply hate the feel of flossing, water flossing is the next best alternative. Water flossers can be picked up in selected pharmacies.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Good oral hygiene involves more than just brushing your teeth, you should be flossing on a daily basis, too. If you find you’re still struggling to floss correctly, we would be more than happy to show you our techniques and give you some more tips during your next dental checkup. 

Along with regular brushing and flossing, make sure you also schedule regular dental hygiene appointments at least twice a year.

Hermes Dentists London is an award-winning dental clinic with experience and a proven track record in many dentistry services. Our staff have years of experience and can offer you all sorts of solutions and preventative methods, so you can achieve a natural, healthy smile.

If you want more reasons to smile, then simply contact us today to discuss stress and oral health care– we’d love to help.

Leave a comment