Despite being one of the least expensive, easiest ways to keep teeth clean and healthy, the overwhelming majority of people fail to include flossing in their daily oral hygiene regimen. Even those who do floss regularly often fail to floss correctly, missing out on critical opportunities to prevent cavities and other tooth problems.
Why is flossing important?
Although brushing is great for removing large food particles and plaque from the central part of the tooth, often food and plaque are missed that accumulate between the teeth and at the gumline. Flossing is the best way to remove buildup from these parts of your teeth and ensure your mouth is as healthy as possible.
How often should you floss?
Although brushing your teeth twice a day is ideal, a healthy flossing regimen only requires flossing once a day. More frequent flossing, or flossing too vigorously, can actually be detrimental to the health of your gums. However, if you have stringy or sticky residue left behind by a meal, using floss more frequently to remove those food particles is safe and acceptable.
When is the best time to floss?
Many people wonder whether they should floss before or after brushing, but the truth is, flossing is effective no matter when you do it, and there are pros and cons to each approach.
If you floss before you brush, food stuck between teeth will be dislodged and more easily washed away with the help of a toothbrush. However, brushing your teeth first will remove the overall amount of plaque you pull out while flossing, which can make the experience more pleasant.
If you do decide to floss after brushing, consider rinsing your mouth afterward to remove any particles that were dislodged by the floss.
What is the correct way to floss?
Begin with about 18 inches of floss wound tightly around your index or middle fingers on both hands. Pull the floss between your hands taut and slide the floss between each set of teeth that touch, as well as where your last molar meets your gums.
Slide the floss up and down the teeth along the natural curve of each tooth. Also floss where your teeth meet your gums.
Finally, be sure to use a new clean section of floss for each set of teeth.
Curious about whether you’re flossing correctly? You can always ask your dentist for a demonstration during your next visit.
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