Brushing and flossing


Accessing dental treatment during the coronavirus pandemic

If you have a dental problem you should, in the first instance always telephone the dental practice that you normally attend. If you are not registered with any dental practice then your nearest dental practice will still be able to help.

Further information is available on accessing dental treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.


We all know how important flossing is, and yet we don't all include it as part of our oral health routine. Flossing is just as important as brushing and is one of the best ways to remove plaque from between your teeth.

According to National Smile Month one third of people have never used dental floss and less than a quarter of adults use dental floss regularly. Flossing should begin early in life and should be carried out daily. Dental floss when used correctly removes any left over food and plaque from the teeth preventing gum disease.

How to use dental floss

Dental floss comes in many different forms and product types. It's a thin thread, made of either plastic or nylon. Varieties include waxed, unwaxed and flavoured floss, normally mint. Along with traditional floss that is dispensed from a container in a length of your choosing you can also get floss picks. Floss picks have already got the floss threaded onto a u-shaped stick or plastic holder, taking some of the fiddly elements out of flossing. All of these types have their own unique benefits, ask your dentist or hygienist which is best for your needs and they will be able to advise.

How to use dental floss

Be thorough but gentle when using dental floss, make sure to reach the gumline but don't force it down too far or too severely as this can damage your gums. Always follow flossing advice given to you by your dentist, this includes how often you should use it. We have listed below all the information you need to start flossing correctly today.

  • Pull out a section of floss about 18 inches long, roughly the size of a long desk ruler. Take your middle finger on each hand and wrap the floss around them leaving a length of taut floss in the middle
  • Use your thumb and forefinger of each hand, leaving about 1-2 inches length in the middle, pull the length so it's tight and can be inserted in the gaps between your teeth
  • Without any force move the floss up and down against the sides of the teeth and under the gumline. Remember to be careful but thorough around the gumline
  • Using a fresh section of floss for each tooth to avoid moving plaque around the mouth, repeat the process of flossing on your next tooth until each tooth has been flossed
  • Don't forget the teeth at the back of your mouth, the exposed surfaces of these teeth should also be flossed

Bleeding gums when you floss

Your dentist should advise you that the first couple of times you floss your gums may bleed a little. This is because your gums may be tender and aren't used to such a thorough clean, now you are getting rid of any plaque build-up. Stick with the flossing and include it once a day in your oral health routine and the bleeding and sensitivity should subside, if it doesn't then you should seek advice from your dentist or hygienist.

If you are finding flossing too difficult or painful to continue with you should speak with your dentist about your available options. They may be able to recommend a more suitable floss or another way of cleaning between your teeth such as interdental brushes. Floss, in its many varieties, is available from supermarkets, pharmacies and even from your dentist.


Getting into a flossing routine is one of the best things you can do for your teeth in addition to brushing twice a day. Find out more about getting the best clean in our teeth cleaning guide.