Don’t Forget to Floss
Flossing is an integral part of your oral
health regimen; however, many people
don’t spend enough time flossing their
teeth, or they don’t floss at all. By flossing
just once a day, you can decrease your
risk of gum disease and increase your
chances of maintaining good oral health
throughout your lifetime.
Why should I floss?
Brushing cleans the tops and sides of
your teeth, but flossing cleans in between
them where your toothbrush can’t reach.
Dental floss removes plaque and debris
that adhere to teeth and gums; it also
helps to polish tooth surfaces and control
How often should I floss?
You should floss your teeth for 2 or 3
minutes at least once a day. The best time
to floss is right before bed, but you can
incorporate it into any part of your daily
routine that’s convenient.
What is the proper flossing
There are two acceptable methods for
1. To use the spool method, take an
18-inch piece of floss and wrap the
bulk of it lightly around your middle
finger. Wind the rest of the floss
around your middle finger on your
opposite hand, and use this finger to
take up the floss as it becomes soiled
2. To use the loop method, take an
18-inch piece of floss and tie it in a
circle, secured with three knots. After
placing all of your fingers except your
thumb inside the loop, use your index
fingers to guide the floss through the
lower teeth and your thumbs to guide
the floss through the upper teeth.
This is a good method for those with
Don’t rub the floss from side to side.
Instead, use an up-and-down motion,
forming a “C” on the side of each tooth.
Make sure to floss below the gumline.
Flossing should not be painful, but you
may experience some discomfort or
bleeding when you first start. These side
effects should subside in a week or two.
If they don’t, talk to your dentist.
Which kind of floss should I use?
There are a variety of flosses available,
and all of them do a similar job of removing
plaque. Wide floss, or dental
tape, may be beneficial for those with
a lot of bridge work or a lot of space
between their teeth, while waxed floss
may be easier to fit between tight teeth
Unwaxed floss makes a squeaking
sound to let you know when your teeth
are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not
fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but
it does tear more than waxed floss.
Another option is pre-threaded flossers
or floss holders. These are useful for
those with limited dexterity, those just
learning to floss, or caretakers who are
flossing someone else’s teeth.
If you have children, you should start
flossing their teeth as soon as they have
two teeth that touch each other.
Should I use a waterpick?
A waterpick, or irrigation device, should
not be used as a substitute for brushing
and flossing because it does not remove
plaque. However, waterpicks can be
used to remove food from the areas
around braces where a toothbrush can’t
reach. Dentists also may recommend
that patients with gum disease use a
waterpick with an antibacterial agent in
If you have questions about what type of
floss to use or the best method for flossing
your teeth, be sure to ask your dentist.