Why should I use dental floss?

Dental floss helps to prevent gum disease by getting rid of pieces of food and plaque from between your teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance made of bacteria. If it builds up, the bacteria can irritate the gums and cause inflammation.

We often recommend using dental floss to help you to clean between your teeth (interdental cleaning).

How to use dental floss

Dental floss is a thin, soft thread made of nylon or plastic that removes food and plaque from between your teeth. Many people find dental tape, which is thicker than floss, easier to use.
If you use dental floss incorrectly, it can damage your gums. You should therefore follow our advice about using dental floss, including how often you should use it. The tips below may also help.

1. Cut off a section of floss about 45cm (18 inches) long. Wind it around the middle fingers of each hand.
2. Grip the floss with your thumb and forefinger of each hand so that the floss between your hands is about 2.5-5cm (1-2 inches) long. Pull it tight so you can insert the floss in a gap between two teeth.
3. Gently guide the floss up and down against the sides of the teeth and under the gumline. When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C-shape against the tooth until you feel resistance.
4. Hold the floss against the tooth and gently scrape the side over it, away from the gum. This will help you to floss under the gumline without causing any damage.
5. Repeat this process for the next gap, along the side of the next tooth.
6. Make sure you floss between every single tooth. Working to a pattern round the whole of your mouth makes it less likely that you’ll miss out any teeth.
7. Remember to floss the side of the teeth at the back of your mouth.

What if my gums bleed?

When you first start flossing, your gums may be tender and bleed a little as you start to get rid of any plaque build-up. Carry on flossing your teeth and the bleeding should stop, as your gums become healthier.

If you’re still getting regular bleeding after a few days, see your dentist. We can check if you’re flossing correctly.

What if I find flossing difficult?

If you find holding the floss difficult, you could try using a floss holder (sometimes called a flosser) or an interdental brush. These hold the floss for you and some people find them helpful. Some people find interdental brushes easier to use than floss. You can buy flossers and interdental brushes at Barron Dental.

If you find flossing difficult, we can give you advice about other ways of cleaning between your teeth.

How to use TePe Interdental Brushes

Interdental brushes can be a great alternative to or be used in combination with daily flossing. If we recommend interdental brushes to you, we will advice you on the size of brush that will enable you to clean as best as possible between your teeth. Make it a daily routine to brush between your teeth with an interdental brush to keep your teeth healthy and to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Interdental brushes are also great for cleaning of implants and orthodontic appliances.

Use between the front teeth

Use a straight interdental brush between the front teeth. Insert the brush gently between your teeth. Do not force the brush into a space; work it in gently or choose a smaller size. Move the interdental brush full length back and forth a few times.

Use between the back teeth

If you use a small interdental brush (pink, orange, red or blue) you may curve the soft neck slightly by adding pressure with your finger to make it easier to reach between the back teeth.

If you use an interdental brush of a larger size, access between the back teeth may be improved if you slightly curve the wire. The interdental brush will last longer if you do not straighten or bend the brush at another angle.

Choose the right size

For optimal cleaning, it is important to choose an interdental brush of the right size. Very often more than one brush size is needed. We can help to select the correct brush size/sizes for you.

Use your interdental brush once a day, preferably in the evening. Move the brush back and forth a few times in each interdental space. Look in the mirror for easier use. Change the brush when the filaments are becoming worn.