The Different Ways to Floss Your Teeth

In order to keep your teeth and gums healthy, brushing twice a day for at least two minutes is the first step. However, even when you use the best toothbrush, sometimes it can’t fully cleanse the spaces between your teeth. That is why, according to the American Dental Association, it is recommended to floss once a day to remove the food particles and plaque that are stuck between the teeth, which may lead to cavities and gum disease. [1]

Plaque is the sticky film on the teeth that contains cavity-causing bacteria that feed on leftover food in the mouth. These bacteria also love sugary substances as they feast on them and produce acids that can harm the protective surface of the teeth, setting the stage for tooth decay. When plaque is not cleansed away by brushing, it can harden into a rough substance referred to as tartar or calculus. It builds up along the gum line, which may lead to gum disease. Once tartar forms, only your dentist will be able to remove it. However, flossing your teeth daily may help prevent plaque buildup.   

Did you know that there are various ways to floss your teeth? If you are curious about these, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you the different ways to floss your teeth.

The Different Ways of Flossing

Flossing is among the most important things that you can do to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Today, there are many different products that you can use to practice this interdental cleaning. There are small brushes that can reach between your teeth, pointed rubber tips, wooden plaque removers, water tools, and pre-threaded flossers. Below are more information about these, along with their pros and cons: [2] [3]

Proxy Brush

person with braces using a proxy brush

A proxy brush is sometimes called an interdental brush. It is in a cone shape and features a plastic handle and a tiny head of bristles held together by a wire. It is very simple to use, and it is designed to fit between the teeth. There are different sizes of proxy brushes available in order for you to choose one that works best for the spacing between your teeth.

Most proxy brushes or sticks available in the market are flexible. The bristles of proxy brushes are either made of nylon or silicone. Some of them are disposable, while others can be washed and reused several times. To use them, you just need to insert the brush between your teeth. But if it feels too tight, do not force it between your teeth, and use a smaller brush instead. To clean each space, ensure that you go from tooth to tooth thoroughly.

The best thing about using a proxy brush to floss your teeth is that it is easier to use, and it works well under the pontic portion of the bridges. It is effective at eliminating plaque and is best for people with limited mobility and joint problems that find it challenging to hold regular dental floss.

However, the downside of a proxy brush is that it is sometimes difficult to maneuver in tight spaces and areas of crowding. Aside from that, it is also more expensive than string floss.

Water Flossing

person using a water flosser

Today, you can purchase a water flosser in stores and online. It is a device that shoots a thin stream of water to remove food debris and plaque through pressurized water. When it is pointed between your teeth or at the gum line, it can get rid of food particles and plaque on or between your teeth. There is also a debate on whether or not water flossing is comparable to string floss or interdental brushes.

However, water flossing cannot curve between the tooth like string floss does. Instead, it sprouts high-pressured water between the teeth to get most of the bacteria. If you are reluctant to floss as it feels painful for you or the floss gets stuck to your teeth, you might want to try water flossing. The machines used for water flossing range in price from inexpensive to rather costly. However, they all work the same.

Water flossing is easy, especially for those with braces or other types of dental work. It is also perfect for people who have arthritis or limited dexterity. The massaging action of water flossing can also improve gum health and reach parts where traditional floss can’t. However, it can be expensive and may take up some space on your bathroom counter. It also needs electricity and water, making it difficult to use outside of the house.

String Floss (Waxed and Regular)

person using a string floss

This is the most common tool used to floss teeth. Dental floss has a soft thread, strong silk, or similar material that is used to clean between the teeth. It is a tried and tested way of cleaning hard-to-reach spaces between the teeth. There are waxed and non-waxed varieties of string floss. Waxed string floss is usually easier to use as it is made to glide effortlessly between the teeth. There is also flavored and unflavored string floss.

The best thing about using string floss is it can effectively remove plaque, and you can take it anywhere you go. It is also probably the cheapest option for flossing your teeth. It can be bought at any drugstore, grocery store, pharmacy, and mini-mart. It is quick and easy to use, and it can be done almost anywhere.

However, using string floss also has some drawbacks. One is that it can be challenging to reach the back area of the mouth. Also, if string floss is misused, it may hurt your gum tissue. String floss is also hard to use for people with braces.

Dental Floss Picks

woman using a dental floss pick

A dental floss pick is a plastic device that features a u-shaped end that holds a piece of dental floss. They are used to dislodge food from between the teeth. Some people also choose to use floss with floss picks. However, dental floss picks do not have bristles on them. This means that you only depend on a slight scraping motion to remove bacteria, which might not be enough to be considered proper flossing.

Steps on How to Floss Properly

woman flossing her teeth

If you are using dental floss, have you ever wondered if you are using dental floss the correct way? To help you, below are the steps you can follow to floss your teeth properly: [1]

Step 1: Break off the dental floss by about 18 inches. Wrap most of it around one of your middle fingers, then wind the lingering floss around the same finger of the other hand. This finger will hold the floss as you move.

Step 2: Hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers.

Step 3: Guide the floss between the teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Do not snap the floss into the gums.

Step 4: When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Slide the floss into the space between the gum and the tooth.

Step 5: Hold the floss tightly against the tooth, away from the gums slightly. Rub the side of the tooth gently with an up-and-down motion, following the shape of the tooth. Repeat this step on the rest of your teeth, top and bottom. Do not forget to floss the back side of your last teeth.

Importance of Flossing

woman smiling while flossing her teeth

Some might also ask why is it important to floss and why is brushing the teeth not enough? To answer these, below are the importance of flossing: [2]

Flossing Removes Plaque

Flossing your teeth at least once a day can help remove plaque from hard-to-reach spots that your toothbrush cannot access. This is important because plaque formation on the teeth and around the gum line may cause cavities and gum disease.

Flossing Helps Prevent Bad Breath

Even if you brush and use mouthwash every day, that is still not enough to remove the bacteria between the teeth and below the gum line. You still need to clean between your teeth in order to prevent bad breath from developing.

Flossing Reduces the Likelihood of Bleeding Gums

If you experience bleeding when you brush your teeth, flossing can help reverse and prevent gingivitis. It is an early sign of gum disease that is caused by the bacteria underneath the gum line, which results in inflamed, red, and usually bleeding gums.

Flossing Can Keep Decay Away

When you remove the bacteria between the teeth, it will not have a chance to eat away the enamel and underlying dentin, which otherwise may cause a cavity.


No matter what way you choose to floss your teeth, the most important thing is that you floss daily. Different ways of flossing can work best for various situations. For example, string floss is great for those who are always on the go, whereas using a water flosser before bedtime may ensure that you clean out any food debris before you sleep. We hope this post helped you learn more about the different ways to floss your teeth.

In case you or someone you know is suffering from toothache, you may also check our article about the Strongest Over-The-Counter Pain Medication for Toothaches for some tips and recommendations.


[1] Mouth Healthy, E. (2023). Flossing. MouthHealthy. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from

[2] Silberman, P. (2022, November 4). Different ways to floss (and the pros and cons of each). The Silberman Dental Group. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from

[3] Drsidhu. (2021, June 27). Different ways of flossing: Waterpik, oral B, glide floss: Venus Dental. Venus Dental Care. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from