Dental Hygienists Untangle the Floss Controversy

As primary health care providers with expertise in oral health promotion and disease prevention, Canadian dental hygienists support toothbrushing in conjunction with the use of interdental aids, such as floss and interdental brushes, to help remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris from areas that toothbrushes cannot reach.

Flossing Steps

Dental hygienists may recommend more than one interdental aid for different areas of the mouth. After dental hygienists do a comprehensive assessment, they will collaborate with you to customize a daily oral care routine based on your unique needs, abilities, and preferences, and product availability. This partnership helps you to maintain and improve your oral health in between professional dental hygiene visits. Visit your dental hygienist today to learn about the interdental aids that are right for you!

  • Pull 40-50 cm of dental floss from the container. The floss should be about the length of your arm.
  • Wrap the ends of the floss around each of your middle fingers, leaving only about 2-3 cm of floss between your two fingers. (figure 1)
  • Pinch your thumb and index fingers together to hold the floss firmly in place.
  • Use your thumbs to guide the floss between your upper teeth. (figure 2)
  • Use your index fingers to guide the floss between your lower teeth.
  • Use a gentle see-saw motion to slide the floss between tight teeth. Don’t snap it.
  • Wrap the floss around the tooth to form a “C” shape.
  • Gently slide the floss up and down between your tooth and your gums. (figure 3)
  • Once you have removed plaque and food debris by gliding the floss a few times, remove the floss from in between your teeth slowly and gently.
  • Use a new section of floss each time you move to a new tooth.
  • Continue this technique for each tooth. Don’t forget to floss behind your very last tooth!
  • Discard the used floss.

If you find flossing difficult, talk to your dental hygienist about ways to clean between your teeth that are right for you.

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