Young man flossing his teeth indoors

You’re Flossing Wrong: Here’s How You Should Be Flossing

The sad truth is that most people, even if they floss daily, aren’t flossing correctly. Flossing is one of the most important ways to take care of your teeth. In addition to regular brushing, checkups at your dentist, and a healthy diet, flossing can help keep your teeth bright and cavity-free.

So, what is the best way to floss and how often should you be flossing?

What Does Flossing Even Do?

There is a common misconception that flossing is done to remove food particles from between the teeth. This is only partially true. The real purpose of flossing is to polish the interior walls of the teeth and remove bacteria from them. Though flossing will remove stray food particles, it’s also getting rid of the bacterial build-up in between teeth that makes flossing so important.

Regular brushing can have trouble reaching the areas in between teeth, which can lead to bacterial build-up. Over time, this build-up can lead to cavities. Flossing helps keep this in check and is a great way to prolong the life of your teeth.

Don’t forget, you can always ask your periodontist for more information about the technical details of flossing. If dental practitioners love anything, it’s talking teeth.


Each mouth is different and a good dentist can help you learn the best way to take care of your specific dental condition. However, there is a problem with the way most people floss. Simply put, they are doing it wrong.

Most people make two common mistakes when flossing. The first is that they focus the flossing on the gums in between the teeth. Flossing is actually used to clean the walls of adjacent teeth. Think about it this way, it’s less about cleaning the surface of the gums and more about cleaning the surface of the teeth.

Most people think flossing is about cleaning gums, they tend to go about it with a sawing motion that pulls the floss back and forth across the gums. This is an incorrect way to floss. The right way to floss is to move in an up-and-down motion cleaning the walls of the teeth. It’s less like a sawing motion, and more like an elevator going up and down. remember that you want to clean the walls of the teeth with an up-and-down motion, not clean the gums with a sawing motion.

When to Floss

Most people who floss do so when they brush their teeth at night, or in the morning. While this is a great time to floss, it’s not the best time to floss. The best time to floss your teeth is right after a meal. This does the most work in terms of cleaning both bacteria and stray food particles, that generate bacteria, off of your teeth.

Flossing with Braces

Cosmetic dentistry can change the landscape of your mouth in more ways than one. Our patients who come to us for dental implants learn that as your mouth changes, so does your dental hygiene regimen. Flossing with braces or other dental gear follows the same techniques and reasoning outlined above, except for a few noticeable changes.

The first is that, as you might have noticed, your braces, or permanent retainer, is now in the way of the floss. This means you’ll need an extra piece of gear known as a floss threader. These handy little tools allow you to thread the floss through your braces and get those teeth cleaned!

Just like teeth without braces, flossing is used to clean bacteria off the sides of the teeth, but with braces added into the mix, things get more complicated. Flossing helps cleans the braces themselves and also becomes more important as braces tend to cause some extra debris and buildup near the tooth. If you need any help with flossing around dental implants or braces, don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re here to help!