How to Use String Floss; Steps of Use With Pictures


Flossing with the right technique can be tricky and can take some practice. As a dental hygienist, I go over the flossing technique with all of my patients, as sometimes tweaking the way we do it can make a beneficial improvement!

Below I listed out all the steps of how to use string floss, and I included pictures and a video!

1. Cut piece of floss the distance of your hand to elbow

Having enough floss is important so you can use fresh clean floss as you move along in the mouth with flossing. it will prevent the floss from slipping off your fingers.

2. Wrap ends of floss around your middle fingers

Wrap the floss about 3 times on one of your middle fingers (I usually do it on my right hand). Wrap the other end of the floss around your other middle finger until there are a couple of inches of free floss in between your fingers. 

Wrapping the floss around the middle fingers will allow you to have more dexterity/movement in the floss. Sometimes people will wrap the floss around their pointer fingers, and that’s okay, but the movement of the floss may be limited.

At the end of the day, if you prefer your pointer fingers, that’s fine! I don’t want to discourage anyone who is flossing, because every little bit counts!

3. Pinch the floss between pointer finger and thumb

Pinch the floss with both hands between your pointer finger and thumb.

You want 2-3 inches of free floss between your right and left hand. This allows for the floss to be easily manipulated in order to contour it around your teeth. 

4. Gently push the floss between your teeth

Gentle is key. You don’t want to use too much pressure as it can cause damage to the gums. Using either your thumbs or pointer finger apply slight pressure to guide the floss in between the teeth.

5. Wrap the floss towards the back tooth in a c-shape

You want to manipulate the floss so it is wrapping around the tooth closer to the back of the mouth as far around the tooth as you can. The floss should wrap the tooth forming a “C”. 

Demonstrating wrapping the floss in a “C-shape” around the tooth
Holly Verran RDH demonstrates C-shape flossing technique on a model.

6. Move the floss up and down along the tooth

Moving the floss up and down the tooth, maintaining the c-shape will clean approximately 35% of the tooth surface!

It is really important to go up and down the tooth towards your head and then feet, going towards the gums, then towards the biting surface. You will want to go up and down at least 2-3 times. 

7. Move floss to tooth closer to front of mouth

Move the floss so it wraps around the tooth closest to the front of your mouth and repeat steps 5 and 6. 

8. Repeat steps 4 to 7 until all teeth are flossed

9. Don’t forget back surface of last molars

Don’t forget the very back surfaces of your last molars. This surface is often overlooked because there are no teeth behind them. But this area is more susceptible to inflammation because it is difficult to clean!


For best results, repeat daily. If daily is just not feasible at this time, aim for flossing at least once every two days! Every day counts!

I hope you have a wonderful day, and happy flossing!

Holly 🙂

Holly Verran RDH

I am a Registered Dental Hygienist in Ontario, Canada. I hold registration and good standing with both the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario and the Canadian Dental Hygiene Association.

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