Flossing Basics












Flossing removes plaque and bacteria that you cannot reach with your toothbrush. If you don’t floss, you are missing more than one-third of your tooth surface. Plaque is the main cause of gum disease. It is an invisible bacterial film that develops on your teeth every day.
Within 24 to 36 hours, plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus), which can only be removed by professional cleaning. Floss at least once a day, and plaque never gets the chance to harden into tartar. Getting into the habit of daily flossing is easier when you floss while doing something else like watching TV or listening to music.










Take a length of floss equal to the distance from your hand to your shoulder (about 18”).

Wrap it around your index and middle fingers, leaving about two inches between your hands.



Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.




Keeping a 1-2” length of floss taut between fingers, use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.

Gently guide the floss between teeth by using a zig-zag motion.






Pro tips

  • Contour floss around the side of the tooth
  • Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it into a “C” shape around the base of the tooth and gently under the gumline
  • Wipe the tooth from base to tip two or three times
  • Be sure to floss both sides of every tooth, moving to a clean section of floss each time
  • Don’t forget the backs of your last molars












Brush your teeth AFTER you floss – it is a more effective method of preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Gums sometimes bleed when you first begin to floss. Bleeding usually stops after a few days. If bleeding does not stop, see your dentist. Floss can shred if you snag it on an old filling or on the ragged edge of a tooth. Try another type of floss or dental tape. Your Cliffcrest dentist and hygienist can advise you about the floss most suitable for you.



Ask your dentist or hygienist for tips to enhance your oral care!