How to floss?

Originally Published: February 10, 2012
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I'm not exactly sure how to floss properly. I don't really know how to get between every single tooth in my mouth.

Dear Reader,

Kudos to you on asking about the ins and outs of flossing! Not only does flossing remove food from the nooks and crannies of your teeth, it also keeps gums happy and healthy, improves overall dental health, and even keeps bad breath at bay.

Once you learn how to floss properly, flossing can be an easy and fun addition to your oral health routine. If you have any questions, your dentist or other oral health care provider may be able to provide a demonstration. Below is the basic lowdown on the spool method (also called the finger-wrap method):

  1. Cut off a piece of floss that is approximately 18 to 20 inches in length.
  2. Lightly wrap each side of the piece of floss several times around each middle finger.
  3. Carefully maneuver the floss in between the teeth with your index fingers and thumbs in an up and down, not side-to-side motion.
  4. Bring the floss up and down, making sure to go below the gum line, forming a "C" on the side of each tooth.

No longer limited to waxed or unwaxed, today's floss choices verge on the exotic: flavored flosses in spearmint, cinnamon and peppermint; anti-plaque, antibacterial and fluoride-coated flosses; shred-resistant flosses; ribbon floss, with a wider surface; threader floss to get under braces and bridges; floss picks; whitening flosses; the list goes on and on.

A wide variety of products exist for people with different flossing needs. Flossing tools, such as a prethreaded flosser or floss holder may be helpful for people who are just learning how to floss, individuals with limited dexterity in their arms and/or hands, or persons who are flossing the teeth of someone else. A new generation of gadgets has also come along, including handheld floss holders and battery-operated ''power'' flossers.

Hope you find flossing to be fantastic!