Dentists and dental hygienists will often recommend that you floss your teeth as part of your oral care routine. Flossing your teeth helps remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth and from under your gumline, helping you in the battle against tooth decay and gum disease. It can be tricky to get used to at first, but we've come up with a step-by-step guide to help you.
Take about 45cm (18 inches) of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Pinch the floss between the thumb and index finger, leaving around 2.5-5cm (1-2 inch) of floss in between. Pulling the floss tight, slide it up and down against the tooth surface and under the gumline. Try not to use a sawing action as this could cut into the gum. Instead, try a circular movement with your fingers - this will help you get underneath the gumline without causing any damage. When you move on to the next tooth, rewind the floss you're holding to expose a fresh piece. Do this for your whole mouth.
If you are finding holding the floss difficult, you can buy 'flossers' from good chemists and pharmacies. These are little gadgets which hold the floss for you, so you can guide the floss around your mouth more easily.
When you first start flossing, your gums may bleed. Don't worry too much about this - as you get better at flossing and as your gums become healthier, this will reduce.
In some cases your dentist or hygienist may recommend the use of interdental brushes which can be an effective alternative to flossing.