How to Floss Like a Boss


We often say to our patients that flossing is just as important as brushing. Believe it or not, we don’t say this to trick you. We say it because it’s true. When you forget, or worse, ignore your flossing routine you are avoiding cleaning about 35% of your tooth surface. If you’re not flossing because you find it difficult, or because you think you simply don’t have the time, we have a few helpful hints that we’ve picked up over the years to help you floss perfectly every time you pick up a string of dental floss. We also offer a variety of systems to help older patients or those with dexterity issues. 

The Thicker the Better: When it comes to the type of dental floss you use, there are plenty of options. While everyone has different needs, a thicker, ribbon style of floss can help clean teeth more effectively due to its larger and thicker size. While thinner floss will work just as well, thicker varieties will make cleaning easier for those who find it difficult to have the patience to spend a long time flossing.

A Backstage Helper: Another common complaint we receive about flossing is that it’s too difficult to reach the back of the mouth. The hygienists at our office have a solution. Creatively called a “floss holder”, these plastic devices hold a small piece of floss in place, allowing you to reach the back of your mouth without needing room for your fingers. These disposable tools make flossing faster and easier for even the most “anti-flossing” people. They’re also relatively affordable. Special Christmas-tree or cylindrical shaped brushes called proxabrushes are also a great tool for reaching between the teeth and cleaning out a lot of extra food and debris that may be left behind to wreak havoc on your tooth health and your gums.

The Proper Length: 18 inches. That’s the magic number for how much floss you should be using at one time. This gives you enough length to always use a clean section of floss and have control over the floss. Any shorter or longer, and you may have a difficult time holding the floss in place or ensuring that the section of floss you are using is clean.

Take Your Time: Rushing your flossing can actually end up doing more harm than good. When people rush to get their flossing done, they can use too much pressure and cause damage to their gums, or miss important spots entirely. If you find yourself rushing when you floss, it’s important to remember that what you are doing is helping prevent periodontal bacteria from settling under your gums and leading to much bigger and more expensive dental problems. Flossing is so important to reducing the chances of periodontal disease and also excess tooth decay. Work slowly, but effectively and make sure flossing is a comfortable experience.

Think about these tips the next time you floss. Chances are you will be working smarter and better for a cleaner, healthier smile. If you have any questions about your oral health, are considering very advanced cosmetic dental treatments or dental implants, or just want to avoid toothaches and gum disease, schedule an appointment with a periodontist to rule out any periodontal issues. A screening by a periodontist is an important step to ensuring a foundation of dental health and overall body wellness. 

To schedule an appoinment with Dr. Smith, visit

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Dr. Karl Smith has been in dental practice for over thirty-four years. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981 and immediately entered General Practice in the US Air Force Dental Corps. He successfully completed three additional years of advanced education in the specialty of Periodontics with additional training in IV Sedation and Dental Implants in 1992, at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. He won the John Pritchard Prize for outstanding research which included looking for a vaccine against bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Dr. Smith completed a Master of Business Administration degree with a Certificate in Health Services Management while working full time as a Periodontist. In his free time Dr. Smith enjoys traveling nationally and internationally. He is an expert skier and enjoys playing other sports including tennis. Family time with his five children and many grandchildren is also very important to him. Dr. Smith's team describes him as a dentist with superpowers! They know that when he speaks with his patients, he does so with a great deal of care and concern, and because he has a genuine desire to improve their lives and smiles! Dr. Smith is a member of many dental organizations including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology.