Don’t overlook your dental health basics, tips for regular & effective flossing

While your dentist has certainly told you many times about the importance of flossing your teeth regularly, it’s important to note that regular flossing is just as important for your oral health as brushing. One of the challenges when it comes to brushing is that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach below the gum line or the tight spaces between teeth. Dental flossing is the only effective way to get rid of the decay-causing plaque in those hard to reach spaces, and there are guidelines on how to floss your teeth the right way.

As with brushing, ‘correctly’ flossing your teeth is important in order to get the most postive impact, and to help provide some guidance, here are some tips and recommendations when it comes to flossing our teeth. 

When flossing your teeth….

Do use about 18 inches of dental floss. Wrap the excess around your middle fingers, making the center two inches taut.

Do use a gentle up and down motion to clean between the teeth.

Do follow the contours of your teeth near the gum line. Gently form a C shape with the floss to clean around the gums.

Do use a fresh section of floss as you clean around all your teeth.

If you find it difficult to floss due to hand pain, poor coordination, amputations or paralysis, use a floss holder. These Y-shaped plastic devices allow you to floss with just one hand.

Do spend at least one minute flossing per day. A good three to five minutes is even better for removing plaque and debris.

Do keep floss on hand so you can quickly clean your teeth between meals or after snacks.

Flossing may hurt or cause light bleeding at first, but pain should stop after about a week or two. If it does not, see your dentist.

Do use a waxed floss if your teeth are spaced very close together. Using a polytetrafluoroethylene floss can also make it easier to clean between the teeth.


As we develop regular habits for things we have been doing for years, like flossing our teeth, it’s common to think what we’ve been doing is the correct way. But take a step back, look at how you are actually flossing and see if any of these tips provide some insight on how you could perhaps do a better and more effective job at flossing, as your smile, teeth and gums stand to benefit. Your dentist can also provide additional tips on the right way to floss, so make sure you follow these simple “do’s and don’ts,” and help to ensure clean, healthy gums and teeth for a lifetime.