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ADA Patient Library > Flossing

Flossing

Flosser Types ADA_seal

There are many kinds of between-the-teeth cleaners to choose from.

Flossing is an essential part of your oral care routine. It is one of the best ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy. However, it takes a little practice to floss well. Here are some tips to help.

Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is important. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach the spaces between teeth. These spaces trap bits of food and plaque, a sticky film of decay-causing bacteria. Dental floss or other between-the-teeth cleaners can help keep these tooth surfaces plaque-free.

Start by choosing a brand of floss that shows the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. This says that the product has met the ADA’s standards for safety and effectiveness. Your dental office may also recommend certain products for your oral health needs.

Ask your dentist or hygienist to show you how to floss easily and effectively. If you have trouble handling floss, you may want to use a floss holder. Eating a healthy diet, limiting snacks, and having regular checkups will help you keep your smile healthy for years to come.

Basic Flossing

The following are tips for flossing effectively. It may feel clumsy at first, but don’t give up. It takes a little time to get the hang of it.

1. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your index fingers. Wind the remaining floss around a finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the used floss.

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2. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth, using a gentle back and forth motion. To avoid injuring your gums, never snap the floss into gum tissue.

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3. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.

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4. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth with an up and down motion. Avoid using a sawing motion once the floss is worked into place.

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5. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. As you move from tooth to tooth, unwind the clean floss with one finger and take up the used floss with the finger on the opposite hand. Do not forget to floss the back side of the last tooth.

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American Dental Association

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