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HealthSheets™

How to Floss Your Teeth

Floss at least once a day to remove plaque between the teeth and below the gums. Start at 1 place and work all the way around your mouth. Floss between each tooth as shown below.

Three easy steps to flossing your teeth

Two hands with dental floss ready to use.

Closeup of mouth showing floss between front teeth.

1.

  • Wrap 18 inches of floss around your middle fingers.

  • Secure it with your index fingers and thumbs.

2.

  • Ease the floss between your teeth.

  • Press it against 1 side, then the other, to form a C-shape.

Closeup of mouth showing hands flossing between front teeth.

Closeup of mouth showing hand inserting floss between front teeth with floss threader.

3.

  • Gently work the floss up and down.

  • Make sure you go below the gum line where plaque collects.

  • Go back to step 2 and do the other side of the tooth.

NOTE: If you have a bridge or wear braces, use a floss threader to get the floss under the bridge or the wires.

Why floss?

Flossing every day will help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Having clean teeth also makes you look and feel better. Your breath is fresher. Your smile is brighter. And your teeth feel smooth.

Fighting plaque

Many kinds of bacteria live in your mouth. These germs collect on your teeth and gums. They quickly form a sticky film called plaque. Plaque is the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Since plaque is always forming, it needs to be removed every day. Brushing removes plaque from tooth surfaces and around the gumline. Flossing breaks up plaque between teeth and under gums.

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.