Yes, You Really Do Need to Floss

Shot of a young woman flossing her teeth in the mirror

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We all know how important it is to take care of our teeth, and when we see a dentist for routine check-ups, he or she will usually ask about flossing habits. This can put some patients in an awkward position because they don’t floss regularly, and why should they if brushing works just fine?

But does it? Let’s take a look at the benefits of flossing your teeth in addition to brushing.

How Often Should You Floss?

According to the ADA, people should floss their teeth at least once a day. It can be in the morning, before bed, or both. Brushing before flossing is recommended so that the process loosens plaque and food particles between and around the teeth. Following flossing with a rinse helps fully remove particles that harbor bacteria from the teeth and gums.

Benefits of Flossing Your Teeth

Flossing your teeth, though it can initially be uncomfortable, presents several oral health benefits. The main function of flossing is to remove hard-to-reach plaque and bacteria from between the teeth, but flossing can supplement brushing in the following ways as well:

  • Flossing pulls away plaque from below the gum line, which can be difficult to reach for the bristles of a toothbrush. Removing plaque from below the gums prevents damage to tooth enamel and prevents tartar buildup.
  • Flossing helps to get rid of bacteria that cause bad breath more effectively than what’s done through brushing alone.
  • Flossing strengthens the gums and reduces soreness, redness, and inflammation along the gum line.
  • Flossing reduces the risk of developing both cavities and gingivitis, each of which can cause gum disease and tooth decay if left unmanaged.

Solutions for Flossing Issues

If you struggle with regularly flossing your teeth, you’re not alone. Many people find flossing uncomfortable, inconvenient, or even painful. Fortunately, a few solutions exist for dealing with the common issues associated with flossing.

If your gums are particularly sensitive, you might shy away from flossing because doing so hurts and causes the gum line to bleed. In this case, try using a softer floss and work on your flossing routine so that your movements are more gentle.

If you have dental work that gets in the way of regular flossing (ex: braces), special flossing products are available to meet that challenge. There are flossers that are specifically designed to fit between metal wires and brackets.

Even if your gums respond well to flossing, certain health conditions exist that make it difficult to hold and maneuver dental floss. Electric flossers or water flossers can make flossing much easier, and unlike standard dental floss, these types of flossers regulate the pressure they use. The result is clean teeth and comfortable gums.

Finally, if you’re trying to teach a small child how to floss, the process can feel frustrating. While it’s important to teach children about how flossing improves their oral health, you need to do so in ways they understand. The dental health market is full of children’s oral care products, and these products include helpful flossing tools for children.

Flossing, though not the funnest activity, is incredibly important when it comes to your oral health. Do your best to make it a habit.

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