Brushing alone is not enough. Flossing also needs to be a part of your daily oral hygiene. Unfortunately, only about 30% of the American population floss daily. Another 32% report not flossing at all. Most people cite time as the reason for not being active flossers. Learn why flossing is an integral part of your oral health and what is the best way to floss for healthy teeth and gums.
Why is Flossing So Important?
Here is some food for thought: a standard toothbrush can only reach about two-thirds of your teeth and gums. Flossing reaches the remaining one-third by accessing the part of your gum line that a toothbrush can’t get to. By flossing, you reduce plaque, thereby reducing the risk of cavities, tartar buildup, and gum disease. This was confirmed in studies where subjects who brushed and flossed daily had lower plaque levels than a brush-only group.
Types of Floss
There are various types of dental floss to suit different teeth types.
- Unwaxed floss – This is floss made from thin nylon. The floss is designed to easily fit and glide into tight spaces.
- Waxed floss – This is the same nylon floss with a wax coating. The coating prevents the thread from shredding. However, the coating may also make it harder to fit into tight spaces.
- Dental tape – This floss type has a flatter and broader thread. It’s designed to work more comfortably for people with more space between their teeth. Dental tape may be waxed or unwaxed.
- Flavored floss – This may be waxed or unwaxed dental floss with a sweet flavoring. It’s intended for children to make flossing more enjoyable.
How to Floss
Use an 18-inch floss string. This is enough for you to wrap the ends securely around your middle fingers while firmly gripping your thumb and index fingers. Follow these best practices as you floss:
- As you insert the dental floss between your teeth, go deep enough to reach beneath your gums, but be gentle.
- Use a clean section of floss with each tooth, or rinse a used section before proceeding.
- After cleaning each section, use the mirror to inspect for any remaining food remnants.
- If you use floss picks, rinse the floss after each use. Since the floss is much shorter on a pick, consider using a fresh pick for each quadrant.
How Often Should I Floss?
Floss at least once a day at the minimum. If you can floss twice per day or after every meal, that’s even better. However, once a day as part of your evening oral hygiene routine suffices. It may feel inconvenient and time-consuming at first, but if you do it every day, it becomes an ingrained habit much like brushing.
Read also: Be the Boss of Your Floss
Should I Floss Before or After Brushing?
A longstanding debate is whether you should floss before or after brushing. Even most dentists appear to be split on this subject. More experts think it’s better to floss before brushing. When you floss before, it loosens debris, which you can subsequently remove through brushing. Flossing before brushing also allows the fluoride from the toothpaste to reach deeper into the gum line that would otherwise be blocked by food debris.
Regardless, the most important variable is that you floss daily. Doing it before or after is of secondary importance.
The expert consensus is to brush and floss daily. However, even if you follow good oral hygiene practices every day, it still isn’t a substitute for scheduling routine visits to the dentist. Don’t already have a local dentist? Make Maestri Dental your local family dentistry. We serve patients all over Lafayette, LA, and promote a healthy smile, one mouth at a time. Set up your first appointment today!