The tiny gaps between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach make a perfect hiding place for food particles and bacteria.

If they’re allowed to remain there for a long time, these bacteria can start to destroy gum tissue as well as the bones and ligaments that support teeth. Flossing removes bacteria and food particles from between teeth.

If you’ve never tried it before flossing can be a bit fiddly and, when you first start out, it can make your gums bleed a little but this will lessen or stop over time.

Floss is available in many different sizes, coatings and flavours. You can experiment with different ones to find a favourite. If you have trouble using the floss wrapped around your fingers, you can buy floss holders in most supermarkets and pharmacies.

How to Floss

  • Take about 30cm of dental floss and wrap one end around each of your middle fingers.
  • Using your thumbs and index fingers as guides, gently slide the floss between two teeth, using a saw-like motion.
  • Once at the gum line, wrap the floss to form a C shape against one of the two teeth. Slide it up and down against that tooth. Be careful not to snap the floss between teeth.
  • Next, wrap the floss against the other tooth and repeat the up-down motion.
  • Be very gentle and try not to scrape the floss too hard against your gums.
  • Repeat this wherever two teeth are touching.