As many dentists across New Zealand will tell you, it is important that you use proper flossing technique when you floss your teeth. The main point of flossing is to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth and gums to help keep your mouth clean and healthy. Without flossing, the enamel layer of the teeth is slowly broken down by the natural acids in your mouth. This can lead to rotten teeth as the enamel and dentine in your teeth are eroded and worn away.

In this how to guide, we will explain a recommended technique for how to floss your teeth and how to use your dental floss to maximum effect.

You will need

Dental floss

Your hands

Mouthwash (optional)

Step 1

Grab a section of dental floss approximately 1 foot or 30cm in length and break it off from the main roll.

Step 2

Wrap the two ends of your piece of dental floss around each index finger (forefinger) several times and pinch the closest ends between your thumb and forefinger.

Step 3

Positioning the dental floss between each tooth rub the floss up and down between the teeth. Be sure to go all the way down to the bottom of the gum line as there can still be plaque attached under your gums. Particularly if you have larger gaps between your teeth be sure to rub up and down each side of each tooth. Repeat this process across all the teeth on your lower jaw.

Do not worry if you see a little blood. This is normal if you haven’t flossed in a while or are a bit rough on your gums with the floss. Remember to spit into the sink if you need to as your mouth can sometimes fill with additional saliva while flossing.

Step 4

Unravel one end of the dental floss and wrap up the opposite side to expose a clearer section of the floss before repeating step 3 on the top row of your teeth. Make sure to really get in between your molars and premolars to get any unwanted plaque or food out of them.

Step 5

Once you have cleaned between your teeth with the floss rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water or the dental floss to remove any excess plaque and give your teeth and gums a deeper clean.

It is recommended that you floss your teeth after every meal, but once a day is at least the level you should aim for to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar as well as keep your mouth clean and healthy. By regularly flossing your teeth, you can keep your visits to the dental hygienists and dentists to a minimum and have a nice clean smile to show for it.

When you first start flossing it isn’t easy, so if you have difficulty getting between your teeth, navigating to each tooth or reaching your back teeth do not worry, it’s hard for everyone at first. Practice makes perfect, keep at it and you will get better.

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  1. JC says:

    “Practice makes perfect, keep at it and you will get better.” Get into the habit and teach the kids too!

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