A Complete Guide to Flossing Teeth

A Complete Guide to Flossing Teeth

Team General Dentistry

The American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and dentists worldwide agree. To maintain optimal oral health, you should floss your teeth daily. But, even if you haven’t been a dedicated daily flosser, it’s never too late to embrace this essential oral hygiene habit. Here is a complete guide to flossing teeth, whether you use dental floss, dental tape, or a water flosser.

Flossing Promotes Good Oral Health

Flossing your teeth removes the food particles and debris that lead to plaque buildup between the teeth. Plaque is responsible for tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease (gingivitis).  Plaque buildup can also lead to bad breath (halitosis).  

More broadly, maintaining good oral health is connected to good overall health, particularly regarding your heart. Studies have shown that maintaining excellent oral hygiene is linked to decreased risks of atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) and heart failure.  

How to Floss with Dental Floss

To expertly floss your teeth with dental floss, follow these instructions.

  1. Tear off a thread of floss (18 inches is generally sufficient)
  2. Wrap the end of the floss around a couple of fingers
  3. Wrap the other end of the floss around the fingers on the other hand
  4. Insert the floss between two teeth and form a “C” shape, so that it wraps around the edges of one of the teeth
  5. Gently move the floss back and forth up the tooth to the top
  6. Move the floss between your fingers to a clean section of floss and repeat the process between the next two teeth
  7. Continue until you’ve flossed between all of your teeth

How to Floss Your Teeth With a Water Flosser (Water Pik)

If you prefer a water flosser, or if your dentist recommends a water flosser, you can find them at large retailers such as Walmart or Target. Your local supermarket or pharmacy may have them in stock as well. Of course, there are plenty available for purchase online.

To floss your teeth using a water flosser, follow these instructions.

  1. Fill the water reservoir with clean lukewarm water. If you have sensitive teeth, you may wish to use slightly warm water. 
  2. Stand over the sink, tilting your head slightly forward.
  3. Place the nozzle in the back of your mouth near your molars, but do not let the nozzle touch the teeth or gums
  4. Point the nozzle facing downward and push the button or switch to turn on the water flosser. 
  5. Adjust the pressure to a comfortable level
  6. Trace the outline of each tooth, including the sides of the tooth and along the gumline allowing the pulse of water to clean around each tooth.  

If you’re struggling to adapt to a water flosser, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist or dental hygienist for help. They will be happy to provide helpful tips and in-person instruction. 

Book a Dental Cleaning and Oral Health Exam in Aurora, OH

If it’s been more than six months since your last dental appointment, it’s time to book your professional cleaning and exam. To schedule an appointment at Aurora Dental, call 330-562-3400 or send us a message

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I floss before or after I brush my teeth?

This is a personal choice. Some studies suggest that flossing first followed by brushing removes more plaque. But, if you prefer to brush first and then floss, that’s perfectly fine. The important thing is to brush twice daily and floss daily.

Why do my gums bleed when I floss?

It is normal for gums to bleed lightly if you haven’t been flossing regularly. If you already floss daily and your gums bleed, try flossing more gently, or reduce the pressure on your water flosser. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, contact your dentist. Be sure to let them know of any new medications you are taking.