Dental floss: when and how should I use it?

What is the purpose of dental floss?

Brushing is not sufficient. It only eliminates 50% of the dental plaque in your mouth, whereas complemented with the use of dental floss it eliminates up to 70%. Using dental floss eliminates everything that brushing your teeth can’t reach,  such as food residues in the spaces between your teeth and plaque under your gums. Dental floss is therefore an essential tool for preventing cavities and gum disease.

How to use dental floss :

Dental floss shouldn’t be used quickly or excessively forcefully, because this can harm gum health by irritating them or damaging them.

At Dental Geneva, our dentists and hygienists give our patients advice and tips for using dental floss.


How to use dental floss, Dental Geneva

After brushing your teeth and washing your hands, cut a section of dental floss approximately 40-50 cm long.


Use dental floss properly, Dental Geneva

Roll it twice around your middle or index fingers, retaining a small segment between your thumbs and index fingers.


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Slide the dental floss between your teeth, softly moving it up and down and forwards and backwards. Don’t forget to use the floss under your gums.

It doesn’t matter whether you use dental floss before or after brushing; what’s important is that you use it at least once a day!

Dr. Victoria Klimovich

When should I use dental floss?

When it comes to dental floss, there are two opinions about the best time to use it! Some people recommend using dental floss before brushing your teeth. This eliminates plaque and food debris between teeth, allowing the active ingredients of toothpaste to reach the spaces between teeth. On the other hand, others recommend using dental floss after brushing, because brushing your teeth eliminates the majority of plaque, making the floss more effective.

My professional opinion is the following : it doesn’t matter whether you use dental floss before or after brushing; what’s important is that you use it  at least once a day, preferably in the evening.

Types of dental floss

Waxed dental floss: This floss is made of nylon covered with wax. The coating helps it slide between teeth and makes it easy to use, thus reducing the risk of gum injuries. It is ideal for people who have limited space between their teeth.

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Unwaxed dental floss: This floss consists of a nylon string composed of multiple twisted strands. A frequent problem with this type of floss is that it has a tendency to unravel or break.

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Fleecy thread dental floss: This floss has a very thick thread, with rigid threaders at both ends. It is ideal for people undergoing orthodontic treatment or with implants or bridges.

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Good to know:

In the beginning, using dental floss can cause minor bleeding in the spaces between teeth. However, after a few uses, this bleeding will disappear.

Dental floss and orthodontic devices

When you wear a dental device like braces, it is often much more difficult but all the more important to floss. You will be able to easily do so using the fleecy thread dental floss that I mention above. Its rigid threaders let you insert it between teeth with precision.

You can also use a floss threader. It is an inexpensive and disposable tool available at any store that sells toothbrushes and toothpaste. This video gives a very good overview of how to use a floss threader.

If you have any questions on using dental floss, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Dr Victoria Masserey Klimovich
Dr Victoria Masserey Klimovich

Orthodontist at Dental Geneva practice.
Master of Orthodontics from the University of King's College London. Member of the European Orthodontic society and Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.