Flossing 101 – A guide to flossing

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Flossing Guide- Everything you need to know about dental floss!

To floss or not to floss? That is the question! So what is the answer? How important is flossing and is it really necessary? Read this guide to flossing to find out all you need to know.

Why is flossing important?

Preventing and removing plaque buildup is the inspiration behind brushing and flossing.

Plaque is made up of bacterial colonies that are harmful and can eat away at your teeth.

However, since brushing is only effective at getting rid of plaque behind and in front of teeth surfaces, this is where flossing comes in.

No matter how hard you try, your toothbrush bristles cannot fit in between your teeth the way that floss can.

If you do not floss then you are missing at least one third of each tooth’s surface in your mouth.

When you floss you are removing plaque that is in between the teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach. This helps prevent cavities from forming in between the teeth as well as preventing gum disease.

Proper flossing and your oral health

Flossing helps to get rid of plaque between your teeth, as well as under your gums. Reaching these spots is not always easy but this is where very harmful microbes exist. The inability to keep this area clean could result in periodontitis or gingivitis.

This is why flossing the right way is so very important.

The art of flossing and brushing the right way might sound easy but most people tend to do it incorrectly according to a study in 2015.

Proper flossing means you should wrap the floss in the shape of a “C” to help you cover sufficient tooth surface area.

Use up and down movements of the floss underneath your gums and on the outer surface.

This helps to keep all surfaces clean without ignoring your gums.

When you floss regularly, it can reduce cavity development especially in between the teeth.

A study in 2014 shows that flossing properly needs the right practices combined with self-monitoring.

Benefits of flossing teeth

How important is flossing? Is flossing necessary? And why should you floss? These are all frequent flossing questions I get asked as a dental hygienist.

Here are some of the reasons that flossing has a lot of benefits for your dental health.

Flossing helps to get rid of plaque and prevents it from building up. The accumulation of plaque can result in tartar but using dental floss regularly will make your teeth sparkle.

It can be difficult to see food particles and plaque lodged between your teeth or to even reach them with your toothbrush. Flossing helps to get the job done.

When you floss every day, you maintain the health of your teeth but that is not all.

Evidence points to the fact that maintaining great oral hygiene can promote your well-being in different ways.

Researchers seem to believe that mouth infections can raise how much inflammatory elements you have in your blood.

This can lead to blood clots and inhibit the supply of blood to your heart. There’s also another theory that mouth infection bacteria could infiltrate your bloodstream and cause damage to your cardiovascular wellbeing.

Flossing can reduce these risk of mouth infection, inflammatory level, blood clots and cardiovascular disease.

You also reduce your risk of experiencing tooth decay and gum disease since flossing helps to get rid of plaque.

Also, flossing is another way to carry out regular mouth examination to identify redness or swelling.

You’ll be able to inspect every area of your mouth. 

Flossing and gum health

Brushing alone is not enough to give you total protection from gum disease which is why flossing is important.

It is normal to want to stay away from flossing if you experience bleeding gums or gum sensitivity. But did you know that flossing is a great way to enhance gum health?

And healthy gums from proper brushing and flossing can help prevent bleeding gums

In the United States, more than 80% of the entire adults are bound to have a kind of gum disease.

This is not only associated with older adults as gum disease may show up at an early age.

This is usually the case when oral hygiene is neglected. It is important to floss every day to keep your teeth in good shape.

Gum disease usually begins in the form of gingivitis but this condition can be reversed with proper brushing and flossing. If gum disease progresses into periodontal disease then it can only be treated and not reversed.

To keep your teeth healthy, proper flossing is essential and this is a relatively simple task.

When you floss, you reduce your risk of developing gingivitis symptoms through the elimination of plaque.

And when you combine flossing with brushing, you improve your chances of maintaining a healthy, stunning smile forever.

Flossing After Eating – Is it necessary?

Flossing immediately after a meal is a good strategy if you want to maintain great oral hygiene.

When it comes to losing weight, you know how tough it can be. Although no direct evidence shows that good dental health can lead to effective dieting, flossing after meals can help in your weight loss journey. Flossing after eating makes you feel less interested in snacking afterwards.

So, flossing is good after eating whether you are looking to stay away from munchies in the afternoon or you’re trying to keep your weight down.

When it comes to snacking, there are healthy snacks but you should remember that some common ones such as raisins or pretzels can lodge between your teeth despite their health benefits.

Also, snacks like dried fruits happen to have a high sugar content which can promote the growth of bacteria and lead to tooth decay. If you are looking to keep your teeth clean, flossing is the way to go and will help prevent a cavity.

Regardless of what kind of food you love to eat, maintaining a clean and healthy dental environment is possible. You can take steps to ensure that your mouth and teeth stay clean by caring for them regularly.

Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once every day is a good way to do that. 

How to floss

Don’t know how to floss? No problem check out this guide on how to floss your teeth.

1. Start by taking a piece of floss about the length of your hand to your elbow. About 18″.

2. Wrap floss around your index and middle fingers leaving about two inches of floss in between.

3. Gently place the floss in between your teeth. Slide the floss up and down in a gentle seesaw motion. Make sure that the floss is in contact with the side of each tooth throughout the entire motion and wrap it around the edge of each tooth in a “C” shape.

4. Glide the floss up and down several times on the side of each tooth making sure to “hug” the tooth and go under the gum line as well. Make sure you get the sides of both teeth and don’t forget behind your very back molars.

5. Between each set of teeth, wrap a new fresh piece of floss from around your fingers.

Frequently asked questions on flossing and oral health

As a dental hygienist, I am often asked many questions about flossing. Here are some frequently asked flossing questions.

How often should you floss?

According to the ADA, flossing at least once a day and brushing two times daily is highly recommended.

For some people, flossing in the evening just before they go to bed is preferred as it keeps the mouth clean while asleep.

Flossing in the morning is a sort of ritual for others while there are people who still prefer to do so after every meal. It is best to come up with a routine that fits your schedule. 

Will floss help with bad breath?

This is another important reason to consider daily flossing. Taking up a daily routine can help to get rid of bad breath by eliminating food particles, as well as bacteria, that are responsible for halitosis.

If you’re looking to banish bad breath once and for all, incorporate flossing into your dental care plan.

Bad breath is a very common condition and is an oral health issue that should be taken seriously. Although it can lead to social issues, it could also be a symptom of an illness.

Will floss help with gum disease?

Yes! Brushing alone is not enough to give you total protection from gum disease which is why flossing is important.

Gum disease usually begins in the form of gingivitis but this condition can be treated. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, proper flossing is essential.

Why does dental floss smell after flossing?

Does your floss have a bad smell? It could be an indication that food particles, as well as fibrous organic, are lodging in your sulcus and between your teeth.

If these elements stay lodged for more than one day, rotting sets in and could cause your floss to smell. So you can imagine what this can do to your breath.

Why do my gums bleed when I floss?

Bleeding gums can result from a wide range of factors. One of the most widely known causes is gum inflammation.

Tartar could be the reason for gum inflammation and this happens when bacterial plaque hardens under your gum tissue or on your teeth.

If you are bleeding, it could also mean that you’re experiencing some hormonal changes. Sometimes, conditions that are not yet diagnosed or that are inadequately controlled can also trigger gum bleeding.

It is normal to expect gum bleeding when you first begin to floss as a rookie. But as you continue to do so, this issue should soon disappear. Book an appointment with your periodontist or dentist for an evaluation if you’ve been flossing for a long time but just began to experience gum bleeding.

Applying the wrong techniques of flossing can also result in bleeding gums.


The inability to keep your mouth clean could result and many oral health problems as well as your overall health. Maintaining oral and dental hygiene is important to your health and well-being.

Using a toothbrush to clean your teeth regularly is a highly recommended practice but may not be enough to cleanse your mouth entirely.

Flossing can help to get rid of bacteria and plaque that’s left out by your toothbrush.

Plaque can contribute to gum disease which is why it is important to get rid of them as early as possible.

Flossing at least once daily is worthwhile and you should consider making it a daily habit.

See your dentist for more practical advice on the best way to floss for improved benefits.

Kelly Hancock, RDH

Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.

This article and all advice on this website, Toothbrush Life, is intended to help people gain knowledge about general oral health topics. No articles or advice on this website are intended to replace professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or qualified healthcare provider to help you with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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