Cleaning teeth with dental floss Rear view of handsome young shirtless man cleaning his teeth with dental floss and smiling while standing in front of the mirror

Do You Really Need to Floss?

Flossing can be tedious.

The last thing you want to do is add another step to your already busy routine. Chances are you’re tired and can’t be bothered to do anything more than the bare minimum and, in your opinion, flossing doesn’t fall into that category.

But it should.

Not adding this minor – yet really important – step to your routine can have lasting consequences.

What happens if I don’t floss?

No matter how good your toothbrush is, there will always be a place that it can’t reach: in between your teeth. By not getting rid of the leftover food particles in your mouth, plaque builds up and harmful bacteria have a field day feasting on the gross stuff between your teeth.

This is why flossing is so important. Regularly failing to floss means you are missing more than one third of your tooth when removing plaque and bacteria.

When you don’t get rid of the plaque properly, it hardens into something called tartar within 24-36 hours. This builds up along your gums and can lead to gum disease. The only way to get rid of tartar is by visiting your dentist. You can avoid the extra visit if you floss at least once a day.

How do I floss my teeth?

Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to floss.

According to the Canadian Dental Association, you should start by wrapping the floss around your index and middle fingers, leaving about two inches of space between your hands. Then gently slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it into a “C” around the base of your tooth and under the gumline. Wipe the tooth from base to tip two or three times. Don’t forget to get both sides of every tooth and the backs of your last molars.

As the floss becomes worn and picks up particles, move onto a new, clean section. Once you’re done flossing, throw the floss in the garbage – never flush it down the toilet – and brush your teeth like you normally would. Doing this is an effective way of avoiding cavities and gum disease.

What else can I use to clean between my teeth?

The only things you should be using to clean between your teeth are tools specifically made for that purpose. Some people have used less than conventional methods, including fingernails, pieces of paper or the corner of a card, cutlery, safety pins, and even strands of hair.

If you have trouble with regular floss, consider using a dental pick or stick to get the job done.

If you’re looking to take your oral hygiene to the next level, consider investing in an oral irrigator like a Waterpik to remove food particles from between your teeth. These devices are made to shoot a steady stream of water in between your teeth. If you have braces or partial fixed dentures, this may be an excellent option for you. Keep in mind that these are meant to be supplementary to brushing and flossing, not a replacement.

How can I make sure that my teeth are as clean as possible?

The best way to make sure that you’re getting a deep clean every time is by scheduling an appointment with a dental hygienist. They can clean your teeth effectively and give you pointers on how to do it at home so you can reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrea Stevens to get started today.

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