How to Choose & Use Dental Floss

Last updated on April 26th, 2023

What Is Dental Floss Used For?

Dental floss is a special thread designed to clean between two teeth. As is the case, toothbrushes can hardly reach around the whole tooth, but dental floss can give you proper interdental cleaning. Thereby, regular flossing, removing the dental plaque and debris effectively, protects you from tooth decay and gum diseases. It also helps reduce  bad breath caused by plaque and food debris.

How To Choose Dental Floss?

Regular flossing is an essential part of dental care at home. But choosing the right floss can be overwhelming for some people. One important thing to consider would be how close your teeth are to each other. Of course, there are some other factors depending on your preferences. Here are the most common floss types:

dental floss

Dental Tape: It is a thick tape like floss. It is better for those having wider gaps between teeth. But it can be hard to use in crowded teeth.

PTFE (Polytetrafluorethylene) Floss: Polytetrafluorethylene is a slick, thin, and soft material that can easily slide between the teeth. It works well in crowded teeth structures.

Super Floss: It is a special type of floss designed to clean teeth that require extra care due to certain treatments such as bridges or braces. It is also good for people with wider teeth gaps.

Flavored Floss: It is not a type of floss, but some floss types listed above, like dental tape, are offered with a flavored option. Technically, there is no difference between flavored and unflavored flosses, but you might be more motivated to floss regularly when it is flavored.

Waxed Floss: Some flosses are waxed so that you can use them more comfortably with tightly packed teeth. It is also good for teeth with braces. Alternatively, unwaxed flosses can make a squeaking noise when your teeth are clean, which is a signal for you to finish flossing. Technically, either waxed or unwaxed floss is fine if you floss regularly.

Electric Flosser (Dental Floss Brush): It is similar to an electric toothbrush in design. But it sends steady pulses to the teeth and the spaces in between. It can be a better option for those who don’t like traditional flossing.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with the floss type as long as you floss regularly. According to Heasman P  (2008), Restorative dentistry, paediatric dentistry and orthodontics (2nd ed.), Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. p. 37. ISBN 9780443068959, even the least expensive type of floss can give the same oral hygiene as any other floss.

How To Use Dental Floss?

Flossing is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay and several gum diseases. Since you can do it at home without any professional aid, it is a highly practical and cost-effective habit to ensure oral health.

While flossing regularly is of great importance, you can’t underestimate the value of flossing properly, which will affect your oral hygiene significantly. Here we are explaining the flossing steps to help you get the greatest benefit from flossing. Note, that the steps described here are for dental floss string. Dental floss picks are not considered here as they don’t require a lot of technical knowledge.

how to use dental floss schema
How to use dental floss instruction. Oral health care concept. Mouth and teeth hygiene. Isolated vector illustration in cartoon style
  1. Cut 50 cm (around 18 inches) of the floss string and wind each end of it around your index fingers on each hand. 
  2. Use your thumbs and middle fingers on each hand to help your index fingers. It will help you guide and direct the floss between your teeth.
  3. Wrap the floss around the teeth gently.
  4. Slide it between the teeth all the way down to the gumline. 
  5. Normally, 8-10 strokes for each side of the tooth is enough.
  6. Try to go in order while flossing so that you don’t miss any tooth.
  7. You can rinse your mouth with a mouthwash when you are done with flossing.

Here is a nice video showing how to do oral cleaning using dental floss.

When Is The Best Time To Floss?

Nothing is more important than flossing on a regular basis. The American Dental Association (ADA), for example, recommends flossing once a day and brushing with a toothbrush twice a day. However, they say the best time for flossing is the time that fits an individual’s daily schedule. By the way, it is not advised to floss immediately after brushing your teeth.

FAQS About Dental Floss 

You can find some of the most popular questions about flossing in this section.

What Does Bleeding While Flossing Mean?

It is normal if you are new to flossing. But if not, you should see your dentist as bleeding gums might be a sign of gum disease.

Do I Floss Up And Down Or Side To Side?

You should do both moves to ensure you are flossing properly. 

What Are Some Mistakes People Make When They’re Flossing?

Making only side to side motions or up and down moves instead of doing both of them.

Quitting flossing upon seeing blood though it is normal most of the time.

Should I Brush Or Floss First?

According to a Journal of Periodontology (JOP) study, in 2018, tooth brushing after flossing is more effective than the other way around as it helped to reduce the amount of interdental cleaning and resulted in higher fluoride concentration in interdental plaque.

Can I Rinse And Reuse Floss?

No, you shouldn’t. Once you use a piece of floss, it usually accumulates bacteria, and reusing it might damage oral hygiene.

Can I Use Dental Floss Every Day?

Yes. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing once a day.

Can Flossing Damage Gums?

Yes, flossing too hard might damage your gums.

Should You Touch Your Gums When Flossing?

The gum line should be your limit when you floss your teeth. Though a gentle touch is fine, putting pressure on the gums might create  problems.

Why Do My Teeth Feel Loose After Flossing?

It is probably because you have  gum disease, or you are flossing against the teeth and gums harder than you should be.


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