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Why You Should Floss

Woman flossingFlossing on a regular basis is important to maintain good oral health. Dental flossing should be a regular part of your oral hygiene routine. The ideal routine would be to brush three times a day, floss once or twice a day, and use a mouthwash rinse two or three times a day. All three components are important to maintain long-term oral health. Of the three, flossing is probably the one that most of us neglect. Flossing is important because it is the best way to clean certain areas of your teeth and gum tissues. You could brush your teeth ten times a day and there would still be areas in your mouth that have not been touched if you didn’t floss. Flossing is the best way to remove food debris and bacterial plaque from in between your teeth.

So let’s talk about why it is so important to floss. As we have already said, flossing is the best way to remove plaque from in between your teeth. Proper brushing will remove bacterial plaque from the surfaces of your teeth that are next to your cheeks, tongue, and palate. Unfortunately, the toothbrush cannot clean in between your teeth. These areas are called the interproximal surfaces of your teeth, and if you’re not flossing, you’re not cleaning them. If we do not clean these interproximal areas on a regular basis, bacterial plaque will build up. Why is it important to remove plaque from the teeth? Dental plaque is made up of bacteria, and if left undisturbed on your teeth and gum tissues, these bacteria can lead to gum disease and an increase in cavities.

How often should you floss?

You should floss at least once or preferably twice a day. The bacterial plaques that form on your teeth change the longer they stay on your teeth undisturbed. When plaque initially forms, the bacteria that resides within it is in a form that is not as damaging to the periodontal (gum) tissues. Left alone, however, the bacteria that makes up the plaque can change and become more dangerous to the tissues and bones that support your teeth. When you floss once or twice a day, you are preventing these bacterial complexes from changing, leading to an overall healthier mouth.

What is the proper technique for flossing the teeth?

When flossing, tear a piece of floss about twelve inches long. Wrap most of it around your middle finger on your non-dominant hand, and wrap the remaining small amount around the middle finger of your dominant hand. Then, using your index fingers and thumbs on each hand, you can move a small section of the floss in between your teeth.

When passing the floss in between your teeth, make sure you go under the gum tissue and wrap the floss around your teeth. This will effectively remove soft debris and dental plaque from in between your teeth. For patients who have arthritic conditions and problems with manual dexterity, there are alternative flossing tools available. The Reach Flosser is a product that has a handle much like a toothbrush, but instead of bristles, it has a piece of dental floss on the end. It’s not as good as conventional flossing, but it’s better than not flossing at all.

What kinds of floss are there, and which kind should you use?

There are multiple kinds of floss on the market; waxed and unwaxed, thick or thin. It’s really a matter of personal preference; use the kind you like the best. The important thing is that you are flossing!

Can a Waterpick replace flossing? The answer is no. A waterpick is okay for removing soft debris from your teeth, but it is not as effective at removing bacterial plaque below the gum line. There really is no substitute for actual flossing. A waterpick can be used in addition to flossing, but it can’t replace it.

What are the benefits to flossing? They include: