Here’s the Right Way to Floss to Help Your Gums!

Flossing is a very important yet neglected part of the dental care routine. Many people do it twice by brushing, but they either ignore flossing or are not aware of its benefits. No matter how good your brushing technique is, your brush cannot clean the areas between your teeth (interdental area). This area can only be cleaned with dental floss, and this is what is referred to as flossing. This article will provide insight into the correct method of flossing.

What Is the Correct Method to Floss?

Flossing will show its results only when it is used with the correct technique. Below are the steps to keep in mind while flossing:

Step 1: Holding the Floss:

Take out a long strand (around 18 inches) of dental floss with clean hands. Hold the floss and wrap it around both middle fingers leaving some space in between, keeping your index finger and thumb free. The index finger and thumb will act as your guide and will control your movements during flossing.

Step 2: Inserting the Floss:

Hold a strand of dental floss between your thumb and index finger tightly and gently insert the floss between your teeth. Do not put more pressure while inserting.

Step 3: Flossing Movements: 

After inserting the floss, the next step is removing the hidden germs and food particles in between the teeth with the floss. To do this, the floss is placed around the sides of the teeth in a C-shape manner (C- shape technique). As if floss is hugging the sides of the teeth.

Next, the floss is gently rubbed up and down, pressing against each tooth. Remember, the floss should disappear slightly under the gums. Now, gently remove the floss from the teeth. While removing the floss, the minute food debris that is stuck between the tooth will also come out along with the floss which you can see with your eyes.

Step 4: Repeat the Procedure for the Next Tooth: 

Now, move a new strand of floss to clean the next tooth. The floss should be moved around all teeth, including upper, lower, front, and back teeth. After flossing, thorough rinsing is preferable.

What Are the Tips for Good Flossing?

Flossing is assumed to be a tough task for beginners when they do not know the right technique and end up hurting themselves. Below are the common mistakes that people make while flossing and tips to overcome them.

Tip 1:

Always take a large strand of floss. People who take a small strand of floss find it more difficult to hold it between their index finger and thumb, complicating the flossing.

Tip 2:

Hold the floss tightly between the thumb and index finger. Holding floss too loosely will be difficult to insert the floss between teeth.

Tip 3:

This tip is most important as it is related to the flossing movements. The majority of people do not perform the correct method of flossing. Inserting the floss directly into the papilla (the pink triangle gums between the teeth) and directly taking it out is incorrect.

In addition, doing a sawing movement for cleaning with a string of dental floss in between your teeth will only hurt your gums and not clean them properly. Therefore, never use a sawing motion.

The correct method is to use sawing motion only while inserting the floss. Once the floss reaches between teeth, the floss should hug the sides of the teeth and go up and down to the right and left side simultaneously. By doing so, you will not hurt your gums.

Tip 4: 

While flossing the back teeth (molars), do not open your mouth wide. It may increase visibility, but it will make your cheeks tighter, which can interfere with floss movement. The floss may not smoothly move with a wide mouth open. Instead, reduce the mouth opening and start flossing for the back teeth. When your mouth is partially opened, the cheek muscles are relaxed, which allows the free movement of floss strands and enhances accessibility.

Tip 5:

Consider flossing on one side of your mouth when starting flossing. You have four sides(quadrant) in the mouth. They are upper right, upper left, and lower right and lower left. If you are having trouble flossing, try starting on the upper or lower row of teeth and pulling the floss across slowly.

After you have reached the last tooth, move on to the next row of teeth and keep doing so until you reach the last tooth. By doing so, instead of wrapping your fingers around the floss several times, you will get one pass done more quickly.

What Are the Other Options for Interdental Cleaning?

  • Floss Picks:

These are super easy to use and very handy floss. Floss picks come with a handle and a small strand of the floss attached to their top. They are indicated for elderly people, kids who are not proficient in flossing, or people who have trouble moving their fingers. The disadvantage of this type of floss is that it cannot be wrapped around the sides of the tooth. Therefore, the C-shaped technique, which is more effective for cleaning between teeth, is hard to imply with floss picks.

  • Water Flosser:

The water flosser works well for everyone but is the best option for flossing for people who have inflammation of the gums or wearing braces. It cleans the interdental area by flushing out the food debris between the teeth with a splash of water.

  • Proxabrush or Interdental Brush:

These small brushes come with a handle and a tiny triangular brush at the top. They come in different sizes and can be bent for easy accessibility. In larger gaps between the teeth, floss can pass freely without cleaning properly. These areas can be cleaned with proxa brushes efficiently.

How Often Flossing Should Be Done?

Flossing should be done once a day. The ideal time for flossing is nighttime before bed because the germs and food debris that has accumulated throughout the day will get removed.


When you do floss for the first time, you should expect minor bleeding from the gums. But, it won’t be serious so, you may not require any emergency dental care, still, you need to be careful. Bleeding may occur due to the wrong flossing technique or the bacteria build-up. The correct flossing method helps you keep your teeth and gums healthy. However, you can opt for other interdental cleaning options if you are not a good flosser. But which option is good for you will be best suggested by your dentist.

Dr. Sharda Patel
Dr. Sharda Patel
Dr. Sharda Patel is a General Dentist at Dental Oasis, Family Dentistry; a graduate of the Tufts University of Dental Medicines. She specializes in tooth extraction and teeth whitening service. She is thorough, caring, and dedicated to patient satisfaction and comfort. You may find her reading a paperback on weekends.





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