Is flossing necessary?

Dr. Sharon Robinson

Why this extra dental task is important

Though it’s one extra task in your daily dental care, flossing is an essential part of preserving the health of your teeth and gums. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. This is important, because plaque not removed by brushing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent cavities and event gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and a high body mass index. In addition, bacteria can cause bad breath. By also removing the residue that can make your teeth look less white, flossing can also improve the appearance of your mouth.

What Type of Floss Should I Use?

Nylon (or multifilament) floss

The more affordable option, nylon floss is available both waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavors. But because this type of floss is made up of many strands of nylon, it may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points.

PTFE (monofilament) floss

While more expensive, single filament (PTFE) floss slides easily between teeth – even through tight spaces – and is virtually shred-resistant. This makes it a great option for those on the go. But, when both are used properly, they prove equally excellent at removing plaque and debris.

Simple Steps to Floss 

We know we should floss at least once a day, but not everyone knows the right way to do it. Use this step-by-step guide to find out how to properly floss your teeth:

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.

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