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We’ve all heard our dentist sing the praises of regular, proper flossing. And yet most of us either don’t floss the right way, or don’t floss at all. Our hope at Smile On Dental & Sleep Apnea Center is that this blog about the proper way to floss we’ll enlighten some of our readers to the positive impact flossing has on gums, teeth, and overall oral health. 

Proper Flossing Techniques

The fact that you’re flossing is a good first step. However, to truly be confident that daily flossing is removing plaque from your teeth and keeping your gums healthy, you want to exercise the proper techniques. Let’s review them:

Step 1: Wind

Pick a finger – middle or index – and wind about 18 inches of floss around that finger on your right hand, and a smaller amount around the same finger on your left hand. If you use your middle finger, it might be easier to floss since you can use your index finger to help move the floss from tooth to tooth. Whichever way you choose, once the floss is secure around your fingers, pinch it between your thumb and middle/index finger so that there’s a one or two-inch length of floss in between. 

Step 2: Guide

Guide the floss into position between each tooth. When you floss the upper teeth, your thumbs are best for guiding. For your lower teeth, you’ll probably find it easiest to guide with your index fingers. 

Step 3: Glide

This step is where many people don’t quite utilize the proper flossing technique. What you want to do here is gently glide the floss between your teeth, in a zig-zag motion, until you reach the gums. If the floss snaps between your teeth or you here it “pop” as you move it towards your gums, this means you’re doing too much pushing and not enough gliding. Also important here is that you match your motion to the contour of the tooth: for example, you should make a “C” shape with the floss as you wrap it around each tooth. 

Step 4: Slide

Here begins the act of flossing. You should slide the floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Also, it’s important to floss the backside of each tooth, which a lot of flossers forget to do. Once you’ve flossed a tooth’s sides, gum line, and backside, unroll a clean section of floss from your finger and move on to the next tooth. The “used” floss should be rolled onto the finger of your other hand.  

Once you learn the proper flossing techniques, it doesn’t matter what kind of floss you use (waxed/unwaxed, mint/cherry-flavored) or whether you start with your upper or lower teeth. Now that you have the right approach, you’ll have no trouble ridding your mouth of food particles and plaque.  

A Trusted Partner For Chicagoland Dental Care

With offices in Chicago and Deerfield, the experienced team at Smile On Dental & Sleep Apnea Center has made lasting relationships with thousands of Chicagoland residents. For preventative dental care, cosmetic dentistry, Invisalign, and more, our local dentist is committed to your oral health.

Be proud of your smile.