How To Floss Your Teeth

Learning how to floss your teeth correctly is an important step to better dental health. When done properly, flossing your teeth can help remove plaque below the gum line and between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. Follow these steps to learn how to floss your teeth correctly. All you need is your favorite choice of dental floss and enough time to do the procedure without hurrying. Plan on spending at least 3 to 4 minutes to adequately floss all teeth.

How to Floss Teeth Using the Spool Method:  (This method is best for those with good hand control.)

  1. Remove 18 inches of floss from the container. Start wrapping one end of the floss almost entirely around the tip of  your middle finger. Take care to not wrap the floss tightly because it can cut off the finger's circulation, seriously.
  2. Lightly wrap the other end of the dental floss around the tip of the other middle finger. This finger is used to take up the floss as it's used.
  3. Your thumb and forefinger is used to begin guiding  the floss gently between the teeth. The middle fingers act as the "spool" for the dental floss.
  4. Move the dental floss in an up and down motion, not side to side. Be sure to pull the floss taunt against the tooth as you slide it down between the tooth and below the gum line.
  5. The dental floss should be covering almost half of the tooth in a "C" figure if done correctly. Move the floss up and down in this "C" shape several times to remove plaque above and below the gum line. When done correctly, each time you move the floss, this "C" shape should now cover the other half of the same tooth before starting on the next neighboring tooth.

How to Floss Your Teeth Using the Loop Method:  This method is easier for children or for individuals with arthritic hands or painful hands common with carpal tunnel syndrome.

  1. Remove 18 inches of floss from the container. Form a circle with the dental floss.
  2. Tie the ends of the floss securely together with three knots. Place all of your fingers inside the circle but leaves thumbs on the outside of the circle.
  3. Use your index fingers to guide the floss between the lower teeth. The thumbs guide the floss between the upper teeth. Having all of your fingers inside the floss circle holds it without putting strain on the fingers in the same way as using them individually does.
  4. Floss between all teeth using the same "C" method described above.  Always take the dental floss gently below the gum line to remove plaque that can cause gum disease.

Tips and Warnings:

  • Floss is available in several varieties to better suit individual needs. It's available in waxed, unwaxed varieties and is available in several flavors.
  • Thin waxed floss is better suited for tight spaces where teeth are very close together.
  • Use caution when learning how to floss your teeth with thin variety so as to not cut into the gums.
  • Dental floss is also available in a thick variety that's soft and gentle to sensitive gums. 
  • You can also buy disposable holders with the floss already attached or you can buy an empty holder and thread your own floss on it.  Learning how to floss your teeth without holders will give you better control of the floss, usually resulting in better cleaning.

Now that you know how to floss your teeth using the correct method, be sure to do it at least once daily. Flossing is an important step in good dental health.