Flossing: Steps, Importance, and Types

Table of Contents

Flossing is an integral part of the dental routine. It should be introduced into life from the age of 6-7 and become a part of the routine. With dental floss passed between your teeth, you can remove food particles that the brush cannot reach and make your teeth clean in just 5 minutes.

There is no single type of floss. Therefore, choosing the right one for your teeth is what makes a flossing routine effective.

Here’s a recap of the article:


What Is Flossing?

Flossing is a process of oral care to remove residue in parts the toothbrush cannot reach and in parts that cannot be seen.

Flossing is done with a thin filament. It is usually produced from nylon. Nylon can be found in two different forms. These forms are waxed and unwaxed.

Floss threader is slid between the teeth and down the gum line. It is done with soft movements and care is taken not to be harsh. The flossing process takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

Flossing twice a day is great but, The American Dental Association (ADA) said that flossing once a day is usually enough.

Increased bacterial and plaque formation due to residues is largely prevented. It prevents cavities, gum disease, and bad breath in this way.

How to Floss Your Teeth

Here’s a simple guideline to floss your teeth properly:

  • Get between 18 to 24 inches of floss.
  • Take 3 cm for your tooth.
  • Hold the floss between your thumb and index finger.
  • Hold the floss between the teeth in a C shape.
  • Slide the floss from below the gum line to the surface of the teeth.
  • Use a clean piece of flossing between each tooth.

What Is the Best Way to Floss?

The best way to floss the tooth is to wrap between 18 to 24 inches of floss into a C shape. It will be best to use dental floss by sliding it down under the gum line and bringing it to the surface of the tooth. It is important not to be harsh.

Using clean dental floss for each tooth gap is another best way. This way, the residue you take between one tooth will not stick between the other teeth.

How to Floss Properly in 6 Easy Steps

Flossing properly is possible in 6 simple steps. If you follow these steps, the flossing step of your dental routine will go very smoothly.

how to floss your teeth

STEP 1: Pick a floss as per your requirements

There are several types of dental floss. Regular dental floss may not be effective for some people. For this reason, you should choose a dental floss that is suitable for your tooth structure and tooth shape and that will have maximum effect and be clean.

STEP 2: Take a measured amount

Dental floss is usually sufficient from 18 to 24 inches. You need to take 3 cm for each tooth gap.

STEP 3: Be mindful of how you hold the thread

Holding style is important.

You should hold the thread between your thumb and index fingers. You can perform the dental flossing process by wrapping the floss around your fingers.

STEP 4: Use the "C" shape flossing technique

Keeping the thread in a C shape is another important step.

You can make this process faster and easier by holding the rope in a C shape and passing it between your teeth. Making it in a C shape provides flexibility and convenience.

STEP 5: Use an interdental brush (Optional)

Whether or not to use an interface brush is optional.

The interdental brush reaches depths that even dental floss cannot reach and provides extra cleaning.

However, if you think that you are cleaning correctly and properly with dental floss, you don’t need to consider choosing it.

STEP 6: Brush your teeth

It is very important to brush your teeth after flossing.

Thus, teeth with clean interdental spaces can get the maximum effect from toothpaste. Fluoride acts on the teeth and between the teeth because there is no residue left.

EXTRA TIP: Flossing your back teeth

It is important to floss the backs of your teeth.

While doing this, it may be easier to use a longer piece of dental floss.

Choosing other types of dental floss is also an important option for the back of your teeth.

How Do I Know If I'm Flossing Correctly?

If you check all of the boxes in the table below, you can know if you’re flossing properly!

  • Your gums aren’t bleeding
  • You are flossing before brushing
  • You take approximately 10 minutes to floss entirely
  • You use 18 to 24 inches of the thread to floss your teeth
  • You are doing C shape flossing
  • You are flossing your teeth by wrapping them around your thumb and index finger
  • You pick the type of flossing that is more suitable to your teeth

6 Tips to Floss Easier

There are many ways to make this step easier.

  • Ask your hygienist for help
  • Watch tutorials
  • Water flossers to the rescue
  • Use floss picks if string floss is not working for you
  • Use an interdental brush
  • Find a combo that works for you

How Often Should You Be Flossing, and When Is the Best Time?

Flossing should be done at least once a day.

Flossing should be done before brushing the teeth.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) points out that the time does not matter. You can floss your teeth whenever you want during the day, but it is also underlined that this practice should be done at least once a day.

Why Is Flossing Important?

Flossing is an important part of the dental routine that should not be skipped. Although tooth brushing and mouthwash are vital steps, they may not be able to completely clean between the teeth. Flossing improves oral health. If it is not done, oral health will enter an unhealthy era.

If flossing is not done, plaque and bacterial formation between the teeth and at the gum line can reach serious levels.

When flossing is not done, problems such as gum diseases, cavities, periodontal disease, and tooth decay will likely occur.

The ADA also underlines that flossing the areas a toothbrush cannot reach is vital.

What Happens If You Don't Floss?

Not flossing can cause many things. When flossing is not done, the food particles between the teeth remain, which is a great danger for the teeth.


Is Flossing Bad for You?

No! Flossing is actually good for you when it is done properly. It should be an integral part of the dental routine to clean teeth thoroughly.

When you misuse dental floss, problems such as bleeding gums and gingivitis may occur. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the correct usage method and duration.

If you experience bleeding gums every time you floss, you should consult your doctor.

Can I Floss Too Much?

Excessive flossing, even though rare, can be seen in patients. Signs of excessive flossing are gum tissue damage, bleeding gums, and irritated gums.

Flossing once a day for 2 to 3 minutes is enough. If it is regular floss, it may take up to 10 minutes. After making sure that you have cleaned between each tooth and that there are no food particles left, the flossing step is complete. 

Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Flossing?

Improper flossing technique or the wrong choice of dental floss can be the reason for teeth hurt after flossing.

If you use hard and pressing dental floss, this step may cause your teeth to hurt.

Not choosing the floss type that suits your tooth structure among the several types of dental floss can also be the cause of pain.

Apart from these, if you have tooth decay, your teeth may be hypersensitive. This causes teeth to hurt after flossing.

Why Do My Gums Bleed When Flossing?

Gums bleeding when flossing is normal when you first start using dental floss. But if it happens every time, something is going wrong.

If you irritate the gum tissue with improper flossing, your gums will bleed.

If you have an infection in your gums, your gums will bleed with every step of flossing. That means, you likely have gum disease.

Swollen gums after flossing and sensitivity when flossing are the signs of inflammation. For this reason, when you use the floss, your gums start bleeding.

Why Do Gums Bleed After Not Flossing for a While?

Bleeding may occur as the teeth readjust to the floss. However, this bleeding may also be related to gum disease.

Since not using dental floss regularly can cause problems in teeth and gums, bleeding may occur when you use dental floss for the first time after a long time.

How to Heal Cut Gums From Flossing

Improper flossing can cause cuts on the gums. However, its treatment can usually be done with home treatments.

  • Apply a clean cloth or paper towel to stop bleeding
  • Rinse your mouth with cold water to remove the debris on your gums
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water to prevent infection
  • Apply a cold compress to prevent swelling

In cases where bleeding does not stop, medical intervention may be required. Stitches are applied to the cut gums. If infected, oral antibiotics are used.

How Does Flossing Help Your Oral Hygiene: Benefits of Flossing

Flossing, which you should add to your oral hygiene routine, provides many benefits.

  • Helps combat bad breath
  • Removes bacteria and plaque from your teeth
  • Lesser chances of developing cavities
  • Prevention of periodontitis
  • Prevents heart conditions
  • Clean and glossy shine when you smile

What Is Dental Floss?

Dental floss is a tool that helps clean between teeth.

The dental flossing process takes place with this tool. It is a thin and soft rope. It is available in two different forms and these are monofilament and multifilament.

There is no single type and it appears in several forms. You must choose according to your tooth structure and which one you can use.

Types of Dental Floss

There are different types of dental floss. Here it is all:

  • WAXED FLOSS: This floss has a thin wax coating and this helps it not to break or shed.
  • UNWAXED FLOSS: This floss has no chemicals and removes all the bacteria.
  • TAPE FLOSS: It has a flat surface and is used by those with wide tooth gaps.
  • PTFE FLOSS: Dental floss’ strands are made of material similar to nylon, polyester, or silk, and it is the strongest dental floss. But, it is not recommended.
  • SUPER FLOSS: It is like a yarn, and it is used to clean around braces and dental bridges.
  • ORGANIC OR BIODEGRADABLE FLOSS: They are reusable dental floss and biodegradable.
  • WATER FLOSSER: It is an easy way to clean teeth by spraying water between your teeth and gums.

Dental Tape vs Dental Floss

Dental floss and dental tape are designed to clean between the teeth, and they basically have the same functions and purposes.

Dental floss is a thin thread made of filaments. Dental tape is wider and flatter than dental floss. It has a more flexible structure compared to dental floss.

While dental floss is suitable for people whose teeth are closer, dental tapes are more useful for people with wider tooth gaps and tooth sensitivity. And, using dental tape can be considered faster and easier than dental floss.

What Is an Interdental Brush?

An interdental brush is an oral care tool that has round-shaped brushes. The bristles are attached to a thin wire and have a handle at the end, like a toothbrush.

Different sizes are available depending on your tooth structure. These different sizes should also be used in different ways on your front and back teeth.

Why Use an Interdental Brush?

If there is a large gap between the teeth, an interdental brush is required. Floss cannot clean large gaps well, and an interdental brush can compensate for this.

This is also one of the best tips to make flossing easier if you have braces. Dental floss may not provide effective cleaning with braces. The thin brush of the interdental cleaners can pass through each side of the brace and clean it.

So, it is one of the effective flossing tools.

How to Use Interdental Brush

The interdental cleaners selected in the appropriate size for the tooth are first soaked. The brush is placed between the teeth. By moving the full length of the brush back and forth, cleaning between the teeth begins.

When to Use Interdental Brush

Using once a day before brushing your teeth is sufficient.

If you have braces, it can increase to two or three times a day. It is necessary before brushing your teeth.

How Often to Use Interdental Brush

The frequency of use should be at least once a day. Using it once a day is important to prevent bacteria and plaque formation and improve dental health.

How Long Do Interdental Brushes Last?

You can use the interdental brush for up to 7 to 15 days.

If it is worn out and the bristles at the end of the wire are bent, this means that this brush can no longer be used.

What Size Interdental Brush to Use

You should choose an interdental brush that suits your tooth structure and tooth gaps. No force should be applied to get it between the teeth.



To clean small tooth gaps and gum pockets.


To clean medium tooth gaps.


To clean medium tooth gaps and to maintain an oral care routine.


To clean larger tooth gaps.


To clean larger tooth gaps, implants, orthodontic.


To clean the largest tooth gaps, and orthodontic.

Why Doesn't My Interdental Brush Fit Between My Teeth?

If you do not choose a suitable size, the interdental brush will not fit between the teeth. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a smaller or a bigger size and try again without bleeding the gums.

It may also not be able to enter due to a small amount of inflammation in the gum.


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2-) Bauroth K, Charles CH, Mankodi SM, Simmons K, Zhao Q, Kumar LD. The efficacy of an essential oil antiseptic mouthrinse vs. dental floss in controlling interproximal gingivitis: a comparative study. Journal of the American Dental Association 2003;134(3):359‐65.

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5-) Madan C, Arora K, Chadha VS, Manjunath BC, Chandrashekar BR, Rama Moorthy VR. A knowledge, attitude, and practices study regarding dental floss among dentists in India. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2014 May;18(3):361-8. doi: 10.4103/0972-124X.134578. PMID: 25024552; PMCID: PMC4095631.

6-) Shamsoddin E. Dental floss as an adjuvant of the toothbrush helps gingival health. Evid Based Dent. 2022 Sep;23(3):94-96. doi: 10.1038/s41432-022-0818-x. Epub 2022 Sep 23. PMID: 36151277.

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