Dental floss is either a bundle of thin nylon filaments or a plastic (teflon or polyethylene) ribbon used to remove food and dental plaque from teeth. The floss is gently inserted between the teeth and scraped along the teeth sides, especially close to the gums. Dental floss may be flavored or unflavored, and waxed or unwaxed.
Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the other middle finger. If the floss is hard to get between your teeth, try using dental tape, which is thinner.
Holding the floss between your thumbs and forefingers, guide it between two teeth by gently rubbing it back and forth.
When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it around one of the teeth and gently slide it back and forth in the crevice between the tooth and the gum.
Holding the floss tightly against the side of the tooth, rub gently up and down.
Repeat for each tooth, including the backside of your last teeth, changing to a different part of the floss as you go along.
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises to floss once or more per day. It should be noted that overly vigorous or incorrect flossing can result in gum tissue damage. For proper flossing, the Association advises to curve the floss against the side of the tooth in a 'C' shape, and then to wipe the tooth from under the gumline (very gently) to the tip two or three times, repeated on adjacent tooth and on all other teeth too.
Don't be discouraged with your first attempt. Flossing is a skill that is learned and after a while, it will take only a few minutes of your time.
If you do not have good finger dexterity, you may find it helpful to use a commercial floss holder.
Children may find it easier to use a loop of floss. Take a piece of floss about 10 inches long and tie the ends together, into a circle. Then hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers to floss. Most children cannot floss their own teeth properly until about the age of 10.
Establish a regular pattern and time for flossing, so that you don't miss any of your teeth.
Remember to be gentle when inserting floss between your teeth and under the gumline. Flossing can injure your gums if done improperly.
Your gums may bleed and be sore for the first few days that you floss. Your gums should heal and the bleeding should stop once all the bacteria are removed.
See your dental hygienist for a demonstration. It takes practice.