How to Floss

Flossing daily removes plaque and other debris that brushing alone does not reach. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chances of keeping your teeth for a lifetime and reduce your risk of developing gum problems.[1] It can even help you get rid of bad breath.[2] The benefits of flossing are almost endless, really, and anyone who isn’t flossing is missing out.

Start with floss that has “grab” to it. Anything that doesn’t shred also doesn’t take the plaque off the teeth. Good old fashioned “name brand” waxed or unwaxed is best.
Floss comes in two basic forms:
Nylon (multifilament) floss. This floss is made up of many strands of nylon fabric, making this stringy and possible to break apart.[3] Nylon floss comes in waxed and unwaxed.

PTFE (monofilament) floss. This floss is made up of a single strand or thread, and glides in between even the tightest of spaces.[3]

Wrap the ends of an 18-inch to 24-inch section of floss around your middle fingers.
Hold the floss between your thumbs and forefingers of both hands. Use your thumbs to floss your upper teeth. Use your index finger to floss your bottom teeth.
Gently work the floss in between your teeth.
When you reach the gum line, curve into a “C” shape around the tooth, making sure to go below the gum line.
Gently glide the floss up and down several times between each tooth, including the back sides of your back teeth.
Pull the floss against the tooth while flossing.Don’t forget the molars in the back of your mouth. Most gum disease and decay occurs in the back of the mouth, where fewer people floss.[4]

Unwind new floss from one hand to the other as you go, so that you are flossing with a fresh piece of floss.
Consider other options if you can’t or don’t want to floss the traditional way. Flossing significantly lowers your likelihood of gum disease and decay, making it an essential part of your hygienic routine. If you can’t floss the traditional way, try flossing with:Floss holders, small Y-shaped devices that hold floss. For those who aren’t coordinated enough to handle traditional floss.

“Superfloss,” which expands in larger spaces and contracts to fit through smaller spaces. Super floss may be beneficial for people with wipe gaps between several of their teeth.

Floss threaders, which make it easier to work around any dental work that you might have gotten.

Experts are divided on whether to brush or floss first. One argument runs that brushing first helps remove bacteria that the floss might push below the gum line. One opposing argument runs that the floss loosens the plaque and the brush then removes it.[5] The most important part is to brush and floss daily and keep your teeth clean.

Wash your hands before and after flossing your teeth.

If you have braces[6], bridges, or other such items in your mouth, ask your dentist or orthodontist for instructions on brushing and flossing them properly.

If you are caring for another person’s teeth, such as a child [7] or an elderly or disabled person [8] the guides linked here can help.

Use waxed floss if you have any trouble slipping the floss between your teeth. [9]
If holding the floss or reaching to the back is difficult, try a floss holder, usually a Y-shaped device with a knob to loop the floss around. [10] Brush and floss before bed, especially if you only clean your teeth once per day. [11]
Your gums may bleed for a few days until the plaque layer is broken up, bacteria are removed, and your gums heal.

If bleeding is severe or continues after the first week of flossing, call your dental professional. Bleeding gums may have to do with other medical conditions. [12]
Things You’ll Need
Dental Floss

Plaque stainer – to see where a lot of plaque is *optional*

Related wikiHows
How to Have Great Teeth

How to Care for Your Teeth

How to Brush Your Teeth

How to Whiten Teeth

How to Brush Teeth Without Toothpaste

Sources and Citations
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