Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.
Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the backside of your last tooth.
When flossing, establish a regular pattern. Do the top half on one side, then the other. Move to the bottom half on one side, then the other. This way you’re less likely to miss any teeth.
You may experience sore or bleeding gums for the first five or six days that you floss. This should stop once the plaque is broken up and the bacteria removed. If bleeding does not stop, call your dentist. Improper flossing may be banning your gums.
Persons who have trouble handling floss may wish to try a commercial floss holder or an interdental cleaning aid. Interdental cleaning aids include picks, sticks or brushes used to remove plaque from between teeth. Your dentist can explain the proper use of these implements.
Reprinted in part from the American Dental Association “Caring For Your Teeth and Gums” guide.