Flossing: Just How Often Do I Need To Do It?

The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth daily with an interdental cleaner (like floss). Cleaning between your teeth may help prevent cavities and gum disease. Cleaning between your teeth helps remove a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that feeds on leftover food or sugar in your mouth. When that happens, it releases an acid that can eat away at the outer shell of your teeth and cause cavities.

An important step

Plaque that is not removed by brushing and cleaning between your teeth can eventually harden into a rough substance called tartar (or calculus). Tartar collects along your gum line and can lead to gum disease. Once tartar forms, only your dentist can remove it.

Although some have questioned the benefits of cleaning between your teeth, using an interdental cleaner (like floss) is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also said flossing is "an important oral hygiene practice" in an August 2016 statement.

Don't get stuck

If there’s something stuck between your teeth that you want to remove immediately, it can be tempting to use whatever you have handy to clean it out. According to a study by Ipsos, conducted on behalf of Waterpik and in consultation with the ADA, most Americans have used 'unusual items' including fingernails (61%), folded paper or cards (40%), cutlery (21%, fork, knife, or spoon), safety pins (14%) and even strands of hair (7%) to remove food stuck between their teeth.

In addition to being less effective than traditional flossing tools, these items can be harmful: 42% of people who used them say they’ve felt pain when using an unconventional item to clean between their teeth.

Instead, stick to using tools designed for cleaning between teeth like dental picks, string floss, tiny brushes that reach between the teeth and water flossers.

Ask us!

Talk to your dentist, and try different options until you find the one that works best for you. For example, dental picks might help you get to hard-to-reach places. Water flossers might be a good option if you have trouble flossing by hand or have dental work that makes flossing difficult, like braces or permanent or fixed bridges. Stick with it and you’ll have adopted a healthy habit for life.

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Posted on: Thursday, April 18, 2019
Last modified on: Thursday, April 18, 2019

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