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Young beautiful woman with perfect smile using water flosser or oral irrigator while cleaning teeth.
Courtesy of iStock

Taking care of your oral health is essential for your overall well-being. Flossing is an important part of that, and knowing how to do it properly is key to getting the most out of it. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about flossing and share dentist-approved tips so you can practice it correctly and keep your mouth healthy.

Flossing may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll break it down step-by-step and cover helpful tools and techniques so you don’t miss a tooth. With our help, your smile will be brighter and healthier in no time.

Benefits of flossing

Flossing helps to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line, which reduces your risk for both gum disease and cavities. Plaque buildup can lead to tartar buildup, which is difficult to remove without a dentist's help and can cause gum inflammation and recession over time.

Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from between teeth, reducing the risk of decay and other dental problems caused by bacteria in the mouth. Regular flossing can help keep your teeth healthy and improve your overall oral health in the long run. This includes reducing inflammation in the gums and preventing cavities.

Steps to floss properly

Before you begin flossing, make sure you have all the necessary tools on hand. This includes dental floss, a water flosser (if desired), a mirror (optional) and a tongue scraper (optional).

Once you've gathered your supplies, it's time to start flossing. The most common technique involves wrapping a piece of dental floss around two fingers (the index finger of one hand and the thumb of the other). Then move it up and down against each tooth surface, cleaning both sides of every tooth up to the gum line. If you're using a water flosser, use it according to the device's instructions for best results.

Once you've finished flossing each tooth, rinse any remaining debris or food particles by swishing with a glass of water or using an oral rinse like mouthwash or an alcohol-free gargle solution.

Choosing the right floss

There are two types of dental floss available — waxed and unwaxed — with different textures for different needs. Waxed varieties are slightly stiffer than unwaxed ones, making them easier for those with tight spaces between their teeth or braces. Some types are also designed for sensitive gums requiring gentler treatment, such as fluoride-infused dental flossers or special soft picks for braces wearers.

If regular dental floss is too difficult or uncomfortable to use, water flossers are easy to use and don't require manual dexterity or strength to use them properly. These come in cordless rechargeable models and battery-operated varieties for added convenience and portability when traveling or camping outdoors.

Common flossing mistakes

One common mistake people make regarding their oral hygiene is not flossing enough! Take extra care when cleaning hard-to-reach areas like around braces or behind molars as these areas need extra attention. They can often harbor bacterial plaque leading to decay if not regularly cleaned properly. It's important not to apply too much pressure with your dental floss as this may result in bleeding gums or damage to delicate tissues if done incorrectly. Instead, aim for gentle yet thorough movements while flossing to not aggravate your gums while still achieving a thorough cleanse.

When to visit the dentist

While proper home care is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene, visiting the dentist is also important. Even if your teeth feel clean after brushing, regular check-ups are recommended as they can detect early signs of gum disease and offer professional cleaning services. Additionally, if you experience any signs of gum inflammation, swelling or bleeding, it's best to visit a dentist immediately for further assessment. Dental floss alternatives such as antibacterial mouthwash, water flossers, interdental brushes, low abrasive toothpaste and fluoride rinses should also be used as your dentist directs.


Flossing is essential to keeping your mouth and teeth healthy, so it’s important to do it correctly. Knowing the benefits of flossing, the steps to floss properly and the types of floss available can help you get the most out of your flossing routine. With the right supplies and techniques, you can achieve a cleaner, healthier smile and keep your oral health in tip-top shape. So, next time you brush your teeth, don’t forget to add a few minutes of flossing into the mix and get your dentist-approved smile!