This article will show you how to floss your teeth properly, including when you should floss. First, I need to show you your objective when flossing. Your teeth are covered with plaque colonized by bacteria that cause gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. There are two areas where plaque forms that floss should clean. First, plaque accumulates in the contact area where the two adjacent teeth meet. This location is essential for floss to clean because it is the most common place where you will get cavities. No matter how good or bad, any floss will clean this area as long as it snaps through the two teeth.

The second location important to clean is at the gum line between your teeth and below. This area will still get cavities but is not as common as the first. It is essential to floss here because it is where gum disease usually develops. You need excellent floss and technique to clean here to avoid gingivitis. However, this surface of your teeth is challenging to scrub with a toothbrush. Cleaning between your teeth here is why flossing your teeth properly is essential for your gums and the overall health of your body. It is also why flossing might be more important than brushing your teeth.

How Do You Hold Floss Properly?

Here is how to hold the floss properly to get an excellent grip so you can floss efficiently:

1. Cut a piece of floss that is about half arm's length.
2. Hold the floss with the thumb and the pinky in one hand.
3. Wrap the floss at least twice around the pinky and ring fingers with the floss going up the palm side of the hand and down the backside of the fingers.
5. Pull tight the floss and release your thumb.
6. Grab the floss with your middle finger and tuck in your pinky, ring finger, and middle finger to further secure the floss against your palm.
7. Grab the loose end of the floss with your thumb and index finger.
8. Repeat steps two to seven with the loose end of the floss and the opposite hand.

If the floss is secured, you will be able to release the floss with the thumbs and index fingers, and the floss will still be tight.

You will only use the thumbs to press upward to floss your upper teeth properly. Likewise, to floss the lower teeth properly, you will use the index fingers only to push downward.

Click here for this video to see my video demonstration of flossing properly and securing the floss.

How to hold floss Step 1 Grab with thumb and pinky
Step 2. Hold the floss with the thumb and pinky in one hand. 
How to hold dental floss to floss your teeth properly
Step 3. Wrap the floss at least twice around the pinky and ring fingers with the floss going down the back of your hand and up the palm side.
Correct floss grip on one hand
Step 6. Grab the floss with your middle finger and tuck in your pinky, ring finger, and middle finger to further secure the floss against your palm.

How Do You Floss The Back Teeth Properly?

Once the floss is secured tightly to your hand, flossing the back teeth is easy. To floss the upper back teeth, you will use the thumbs to press and snap the floss through each contact. To floss the left upper molars, the right thumb is positioned inside the arch of your teeth and the left thumb is outside of the arch. (See pictures in this section). Likewise, to floss the right upper molars you position the left thumb on the inside of the upper arch and the right on the outside.

Flossing the lower back teeth is the same as the upper back teeth, except you will be using the index finger to press on the floss.

To floss the back teeth properly, you want to snap the floss between each set of adjacent teeth. Once the floss is between the teeth, position your fingers further back so that the floss wraps the back tooth in a c-shape. Then lightly rub the floss up and down the back tooth a few times without snapping the floss back out. Next, make sure the floss reaches below the gum level. Then position your fingers further forward to wrap around the other tooth and rub a few times on that tooth. Now you can snap the floss back out from between the teeth. You may now continue to floss the rest of the teeth in the same way. This movement will dislodge most plaque between your teeth if you have picked the right floss.

How to Floss Back Teeth Molars Properly
Correct thumb position for flossing upper right teeth.
How to floss back teeth properly wrap around molars
Correct index finger position for lower left molars. Floss wrapping around back tooth in a c-shape.

What Is The Best Floss To Use?

The best floss to use for plaque removal and prevention is Ezzi Expandable Floss from my testing of various floss products. But that doesn’t mean it is the best for everyone. Ezzi effectively removes plaque because its woven structure expands with saliva to reach small tooth concavities and widens when flossing to increase its surface area and remove more plaque. It is also infused with xylitol which inhibits the formation of future plaque. For these reasons, Ezzi floss is best for most people at removing plaque. However, this floss does tend to shred more often than other less efficient flosses. Therefore, if you have tightly contacting teeth or bad dental work that easily causes floss to break, Ezzi may not be the right fit for you. Also, Superfloss is the best floss for easily flossing adequately between your teeth for people with braces. Watch this video for my Superfloss review.

The pictures in this section show that Ezzi’s plaque-removing capabilities, coupled with the excellent flossing technique that we covered before, are very impressive.

EZZI Expandable Floss Case with Xylitol and Charcoal
Ezzi Expandable Floss with Charcoal and Xylitol

When Should You Floss?

You may not realize this, but it is important to know when to floss. There are three key points to consider when you should floss. First, it is important to floss at least once every 24 hours because it takes that long for the bacteria on your teeth to start the decay process. Now, it usually takes at least six months before you get a full-on cavity noticeable in x-rays, but the process only takes 24 hours to start. You don’t ever want that process to start because then the rest of the process becomes so much easier for the decay to progress. If you are constantly disrupting the bacteria every 24 hours, likely, you won’t get a cavity. It's that simple.

Second, flossing before brushing is another critical point about when to floss. From my daily testing of flossing and brushing, I constantly find that you remove more plaque if you floss before brushing instead of after brushing. Again, you can watch my video here or see the before-and-after pictures in this section to see the results and know why. Also, if you floss first, you remove the plaque that would block fluoride from strengthening the tooth.

Third, most people should floss and brush after eating instead of before. Again, there are many reasons why, but from a flossing point of view, you want to remove the food debris before the plaque bacteria can use to proliferate. Watch my videos on when to brush for more on this topic.

Toothbrush or Floss First Thumbnail
When should you floss?
After Brush Then Floss Should you Floss Before or After Brushing
Plaque amount after brushing then flossing. More plaque left behind than flossing then brushing.
After Floss then Brush Should you Floss Before or After Brushing
Plaque amount after flossing then brushing. Less plaque left behind than brushing then flossing.

Our Favorite Toothbrush

EZZI is our favorite toothbrush for cavities, gum disease, sensitive teeth, and braces. It is for both adults and kids.


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Our Favorite Floss

As shown in our videos EZZI is the best floss for gum disease, plaque removal, and cavity prevention.

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Rancho Cucamonga, CA