There is a reason why your dentist keeps encouraging you to floss. Flossing helps remove bacteria, plaque, and food from between your teeth – things that your toothbrush can’t get to, and it also reduces the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease.

But here’s the thing, even if you floss daily, there’s a chance you’re not doing it as effectively as possible, so here is a cheat sheet on the correct way to floss, for maximum impact.

How To Floss Correctly

Start with a long piece of floss. The recommended length is 18-inches. Wind it around your middle fingers, then take each index finger, about one inch apart, and use them to get the floss down between your teeth.

Gently wiggle the floss down between your teeth, using sawing motions. Once you’ve gotten down below the area where the teeth are literally touching, pull the floss into a C shape that almost wraps around one tooth at a time.

With the floss in a C shape, gently bring it up-and-down against one tooth several times. Do not use a sawing motion at this point. Repeat on the adjacent tooth, and throughout the rest of your mouth.

Is It Normal To Bleed While Flossing?

If you haven’t flossed your teeth in a little while, it’s normal to experience some light bleeding from the gums. However, if the bleeding continues or is pretty significant, it is best to see your dentist, as it could be a symptom of more serious gum disease.

There is no specific type of floss you should use. Most people use regular waxed floss, and that works great, it’s really up to you. But if your teeth sit closely together, you might want a thinner, unwaxed nylon floss, to be able to get in-between the teeth more easily. The most important thing however is to floss daily, and maintain good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums healthy.