How To Floss Your Teeth Properly

Oral hygiene is very important in your day-to-day life. After all, no one likes bad breath, rotten teeth, or receding gum lines. Flossing and brushing are key to maintaining a healthy smile.


When you have braces, it is even more important to make sure your oral hygiene habits are up to your dentist’s standards. Plaque, which is basically a mixture of food, bacteria, and bacteria poop, is your enemy. By not removing plaque from your teeth, build-up can result in cavities, gum disease, and may eventually end up losing your tooth!


How well you can maintain your oral hygiene is ultimately based on your dedication. Here are some of the most commonly seen mistakes on flossing that we observed from our patients. If you have any questions about proper techniques, please ask us at your check-up appointments.


Top mistakes people make when flossing:

  • Not floss at all: Flossing allows you to clean the areas between teeth and underneath the gum that the toothbrush cannot get to. Without flossing, you are leaving 40% of the tooth surface uncleaned, not a good idea!
  • Using the same area of the floss for the whole mouth: Make sure to use a different part of your dental floss when getting in between teeth, otherwise you may be putting plaque from one tooth to another tooth
  • Not flossing into the gum: It’s important to wiggle the floss not just in between teeth, but also underneath the teeth (between the teeth and the gums). Your gums need cleaning too. But don’t force the floss in, go as far as it feels natural for you


Some people find flossing difficult, especially when trying to floss the molars or the teeth in the back of your mouth. With braces, flossing does take longer because you have to get underneath the wires. We recommend using a floss threader or superfloss when flossing with braces. Water Pik is a great alternative to flossing if you are having difficulties flossing properly. Water Pik is a device which sends concentrated blasts of water to clean in between your teeth. This is like power washing your teeth. However, it cannot replace good old brushing, and we only recommend using it when you really have difficulty flossing.


Stay tuned for our next post on how to brush your teeth properly!


Dr Wang

Dr. Wang, DDS, MSc, FRCD(C)


Orthodontic specialist, founder of PacificWest Dental Group. Helping people get the perfect smile since 1994!

Dr Kevin

Dr. Kevin Lee, DMD, MSc, FRCD(C)


Specialist in Orthodontics, UBC alumni. Love helping patients get a beautiful smile. Part-time clinical instructor at UBC. 

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