To Floss or Not to Floss?

6 September 2016

To Floss or Not to Floss?

There has been much debate recently on whether it is truly necessary to floss or not. Recently, it has been publicly announced on national news that flossing is not necessary in order to promote good oral health. If you ask any respectable dentist or dental hygienist, you will soon learn that this is far from true. While many people may think flossing is recommended simply to remove annoying particles of food between the teeth, there is so much more to it than that. Continue reading for more information on flossing, and why it is important.

Interdental cleaning, otherwise known as flossing, is an essential part of proper oral home care. It is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) to floss at least once a day after brushing. This is to prevent the hardening of plaque that may have been left behind after brushing and rinsing with mouthwash. Plaque that is allowed to stay on the teeth will harden into calculus and tartar, which can only be removed with a professional cleaning by your dental hygienist. Calculus, tartar, and plaque are essentially deposits of bacteria. When allowed to stay in the mouth, the bacteria can cause bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. It is always recommended to make regular trips to your dentist to have your cleanings and checkups done, usually every six months. During your cleaning, your dental hygienist will remove any plaque or tartar buildup and will give you a thorough cleaning of the mouth.

The simple steps for correct flossing correctly:

  • Take a piece of floss from its container, about 12 inches in length.
  • Depending on your preference, either grasp the two ends of the string of floss, or wrap the two ends around two separate fingers to keep a better grip.
  • Bring the string between two teeth and pull it upwards towards the gums. Be sure not to use too much force; this will cut the gums
  • Move the floss in a “c” shape, in a curve across the tooth’s surface.
  • When finished, if you have experienced some bleeding, rinse with mouthwash. Discard the used string of floss.
  • If there has been a considerable amount of bleeding, consider making an appointment to see your dentist, as this could be a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease.

Many people floss, but do not floss thoroughly or correctly. Be sure to follow these steps in order to ensure that your teeth are completely clean to prevent plaque or tartar buildup. Whether you floss before brushing or after brushing is of no consequence; it really just matters that you floss at least once a day. It is also recommended to have children begin flossing as soon as they have at least two teeth; remember, it is important to take care of the baby teeth too!

Using the information you learned here today, you will be able to make more conscious decisions while making the best choices for your oral health. If you were a skeptic on flossing before, it can certainly be hoped that you now understand its importance.