How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

When it comes to practicing good dental hygiene, flossing and brushing your teeth go hand in hand. Brushing your teeth only cleans about 60% of the surface of your teeth. Where brushing falls short, flossing makes up for. Flossing your teeth removes food and plaque that get stuck between your teeth.

Having clean teeth isn’t the only benefit of flossing regularly. In addition to removing food and plaque, flossing also reduces the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay. If not properly removed, plaque can turn into tartar, which requires professional removal. To avoid any unplanned visits to your dentist, we’re sharing our best tips for flossing your teeth.

How to Floss Your Teeth

To make the most of your everyday flossing, we recommend using the following approach:

1. Pull out a string of dental floss about the length from your fingertip to your elbow, then wrap around the middle fingers leaving about 2” of floss for your teeth.

2. Pull the floss tight holding with thumbs and pointer fingers, gently glide floss down between teeth, careful not to scratch your gums.

3. Curve the floss toward your tooth when you reach the gum line and slide it back and forth. Then, repeat with the tooth next to it, so you’re curving the floss in both directions.

4. Repeat the steps until you’ve flossed between every tooth with a clean section of floss.

Flossing with Braces

We know flossing with braces can be challenging, and we’re here to help. Whether you prefer using floss or a Waterpik, these tips will help you reach every nook and cranny of your mouth.

1. Break off 18-24” of dental floss. You may wish to floss in front of a mirror to better see what you’re doing.

2. Pull the floss below the main wire. Using a floss threader can help you maneuver your floss under your braces.
3. Wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers, using your thumb and index fingers to gently glide the floss between your teeth.

4. Curve the floss toward your tooth when you reach the gum line and slide it back and forth. Next, glide the floss along the other tooth, gently cleaning the gum line.

5. Then, carefully unthread the floss from beneath the main wire. Be careful not to pop the floss out from between your teeth, this could dislodge your wire.

6. Repeat the steps with a clean section of floss until you’ve flossed between every tooth in your mouth.

Flossing FAQs

How often should you floss?
Every day, twice a day.

Should I floss before or after brushing?
Floss your teeth before you brush your teeth. That way, all the food and plaque particles you removed from in between your teeth will be brushed away instead of reattaching a surface in your mouth.

What kind of dental floss should I use?
No type of floss is better than the other. Use a floss that feels most comfortable to you and meets your dental needs.

How do I floss with a bridge?
Use Superfloss, which has a floss threader at one end, regular dental floss, and a soft spongy floss at the other end, to clean your teeth. Use the threader end to clean underneath the bridge, then use the spongy end to clean under and around the bridge. The regular floss can be used as normal on the adjacent teeth. A Waterpik is another option to help floss with a bridge.

How do I floss with a crown?
The day you receive your crown, thread dental floss in between your teeth at the gumline. Be careful not to pull up or you may loosen the crown. 24 hours after your procedure, you can floss your teeth normally.

Can I use a Waterpik (aka water flosser or electric flosser) instead of flossing?
You can use a Waterpik in addition to flossing, but you should still floss daily with good ole dental floss.

How do I use a WaterPik to floss with braces?
1. Fill the Waterpik container with lukewarm water and make sure it is securely connected.

2. Attach the flosser tip and click it into place on the handle.

3. Adjust the pressure control to your liking, then position yourself over a sink.

4. Place the Waterpik in your mouth and then turn it on. To prevent water from splashing and spilling, keep your lips close together.

5. Start with the teeth in the back of your mouth and aim the tip towards the gumline. Gently brush between your teeth and beneath your main wire.

6. Repeat the steps until you have cleaned between each of your teeth.

Keep your smile beautiful and healthy by following our flossing tips every day, then follow up with brushing your teeth. If you have questions about flossing or other dental hygiene questions, ask your MCDC dentist or hygienist.