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How and Why to Floss Properly

When you visit us just like most dental practices, you are probably used to the chat we have about flossing. Even though we even feel like a broken record, preventative care is something we are passionate about. Maintaining optimal oral hygiene is crucial not only for a radiant smile but also for overall health.

Flossing, an often overlooked aspect of dental care, plays a pivotal role in this regime. This simple guide aims to show the significance of flossing, the correct techniques, and tips to enhance your oral health. Created for those who seek to improve their dental routine, laid out so you can skip the why and go straight to the how if preferred. Let’s discuss why to floss.

The Importance of Flossing

Flossing does more than just remove food particles stuck between your teeth; it’s a frontline defence against plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Surprisingly, brushing alone cannot reach the tight spaces between teeth or under the gumline, making flossing an indispensable part of your oral hygiene routine.

  1. Plaque and Tartar Control

Regular flossing disrupts and removes plaque, preventing it from evolving into tartar. This is crucial because tartar can only be removed by professional dental tools during cleanings, and its presence can lead to more complex dental issues.

  1. Prevention of Gum Disease

Gum disease starts with gingivitis, characterised by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. By flossing daily, you can prevent plaque from irritating and inflaming the gum tissue, thereby preventing gingivitis and its progression to more severe forms of gum disease.

  1. Contribution to Overall Health

Emerging research suggests a link between oral health and general health, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illness. The theory is that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may contribute to these conditions. Thus, flossing might not just save your teeth, but it could also play a part in safeguarding your systemic health.

How to Floss Properly

Flossing should be more than a hasty routine. Proper technique is key to ensuring that this practice is effective. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Cut a Length of Floss: Start with about 30-45cm of floss. Wind most of it around one of your middle fingers, with the rest around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
  2. Hold the Floss Tightly: Grip the floss firmly between your thumbs and index fingers, leaving about an inch or two to work with.
  3. Glide with Care: Gently slide the floss between your teeth using a zigzag motion. Be careful not to snap the floss into your gums.
  4. Curve and Clean: Once the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum.
  5. Repeat: Repeat this process for each tooth, including the back sides of your last molars. Remember to use fresh sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.

Tips for Effective Flossing

To maximise the benefits of flossing, consider these tips:

  • Floss Daily: Make flossing a daily habit, ideally before bedtime, to ensure that plaque and food particles do not remain on your teeth overnight.
  • Choose the Right Floss: With various types of floss available, including waxed, unwaxed, and tape, experiment to find which works best for you. Those with wider spaces between their teeth might prefer dental tape, while waxed floss can be easier to slide between tightly spaced teeth.
  • Be Gentle: Avoid snapping the floss into your gums, which can cause damage and discourage regular flossing due to pain.
  • Don’t Skip Hard-to-Reach Teeth: The back teeth can be tricky, but they’re also more prone to plaque accumulation. Ensure you’re thorough with these areas.
  • Consider Alternatives for Special Cases: If you have braces, bridges, or gaps, a floss threader or water flosser might be more effective and easier to use.
how to floss properly


Flossing is an irreplaceable part of oral hygiene that extends beyond just keeping your teeth clean; it’s about maintaining your overall health. The effort and time invested in flossing properly can save you from dental diseases, costly treatments, and contribute to your wellbeing. Remember, the best flossing routine is the one that you can stick to consistently. By integrating these practices into your daily routine, you’re not just flossing your way to a brighter smile but also to a healthier life.

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