close up of man flossing teeth

A Complete Guide to Flossing Teeth

Team Dental Floss

Believe it or not, flossing is just as important as brushing when it comes to good oral health. Even with impeccable brushing habits, it’s just not possible to reach the spaces between your teeth where plaque collects, which means your teeth are vulnerable to decay without flossing everyday. If you’re not already a daily flosser, it’s time to start! Here’s how to do it.

Choosing Your Floss

First, let’s be clear: flossing doesn’t have to mean using dental floss! If you find dental floss uncomfortable or difficult to use, you may prefer using dental tape, dental picks, or a water flosser to clean between your teeth. These tools also make flossing easier for patients who have physical conditions that make it hard to use traditional floss and for anyone who wears braces. If you need help flossing, ask us about adaptive aids during your next comprehensive oral evaluation.

Of course, even with traditional dental floss, there are a lot of choices involved. There was a time when your options came down to waxed or unwaxed, plain or mint, but these days, you can find floss with flavors like orange, passion fruit, and watermelon! Choose whatever type of floss feels most comfortable to you.

When to Floss

The American Dental Association says that as long as you floss at least once a day, it doesn’t matter when you do it. Although we do agree with this, we suggest flossing at night if possible because it’s a good idea to remove the food and plaque that have built up in your mouth throughout the day before you go to sleep. You’re also more likely to do a thorough job at night, when you’re not rushing to be on time for work or school.

As for whether you should floss before or after you brush your teeth, this is up to you too. Whatever is easiest for you to remember and feels best for you is fine.

How to Floss

Everyone thinks they know how to floss, but do you really? It might seem simple, but in practice, many people aren’t as thorough as they should be because they’re rushing through the process. Here’s a guide to flossing the correct way:

  • Begin with about 18 inches of dental floss. Wind most of it around a finger, then wind the remaining floss on the same finger on the opposite hand.
  • Grasp the floss between your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Slide the floss between your teeth, using a gentle back-and-forth motion.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth and guide it into the space between the gum and tooth.
  • Hold the floss against the tooth and gently rub the side of the tooth, moving away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat until you have cleaned the spaces between each of your teeth.

That’s it! Floss like this at least once a day to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.

Schedule an Appointment at Metrowest Prosthodontics

Do you have questions about how to floss? We’re happy to show you the proper flossing technique during your next comprehensive oral evaluation and dental cleaning visit. Contact us today at 508-620-6622 to request an appointment.