We’re all told by our dentist that we need to floss daily, but how many of us actually keep up with flossing? Every day? For a few weeks after seeing the dentist? A few days? Not at all? More of us may stick to a daily flossing regimen if we really knew the benefits and the best flossing techniques. Since oral health affects your overall health, it’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine, which includes flossing. Let’s take a look at the full benefits of flossing your teeth, the best times to floss, and what your alternate options may be!
The Benefits of Flossing
If you brush your teeth twice a day, why should you need to floss? Your teeth are clean, right? Unfortunately, brushing teeth, while still important, does not get your teeth completely clean. Flossing is an extra step to make sure that the spaces under your gums and between your teeth are also clean.
But, do you really need to floss every day?
Yes! Flossing has many benefits for your teeth and gums, especially when it comes to removing plaque and preventing plaque buildup. What’s the issue with plaque? If left untreated, plaque can lead to tartar, a hard substance that only your dentist can remove. Left untreated, tartar can lead to gingivitis, progressing to periodontal disease. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease. It can also lead to tooth decay, tooth loss and bone loss.
Other benefits of flossing include:
- Fewer cavities
- Better overall oral health (less likely to lose teeth to periodontal disease)
- Fresher breath
- Spending less on dental work
Of course, flossing your teeth is only effective if it’s done properly. Follow these steps to make sure the spaces in between your teeth and your gums get a thorough cleaning:
- Select your preferred floss (waxed, flavored, single-strand, etc.).
- Pull about 18 inches of floss.
- Wrap the ends of floss around your index or middle fingers on both hands.
- Guide the floss between your teeth.
- Around each tooth, curve your floss angle and gently rub the floss up and down.
- Use a new section of the floss strand between each tooth.
- Use your floss to clean behind your very back teeth.
- Thoroughly rinse with mouthwash or water.
The Best Times to Floss Your Teeth
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing on a daily basis. As for the best time to floss, there is some debate among dentists on this issue. At present, there isn’t a definitive answer as to when you should floss, so long as you do floss. There is a school of thought that recommends flossing after brushing, while another favors the opposite. Finishing with mouthwash is recommended for either approach, however. As for morning or night, some dentists have different preferences, but flossing (at least once) along with brushing your teeth (twice) is what matters the most for maintaining good oral health.
Are There Alternatives to Consider?
If flossing teeth is something you struggle to accomplish, whether by incorporating it into your routine or the dexterity aspect of traditional flossing itself, there are other dental tools available. However, using non-dental tools (e.g., fingernails, paper, cutlery, safety pins, hair) to dislodge food particles stuck in your teeth can actually be very harmful to your teeth and gums. Talk about your flossing needs with your dentist, who can recommend the best alternative options.
Some of these alternatives to floss may include:
- Dental tape
- Dental picks/floss sticks
- Water flossers/oral irrigators
- Expanding dental floss
- Interdental/interproximal brushes
Keep Up With Your Oral Care
Flossing every day is important for improving and maintaining your overall health, but the best step you can take for your oral health is to see your dentist for semi-annual check-ups and cleanings. Visiting your dentist ensures your teeth are clean and that your mouth is carefully monitored for all potential oral health conditions. It’s also a great time to ask your dentist questions!
For regular checkups and a wide range of other dental services, visit NK Family Dental in Chicago! Our professional staff, including Dr. Nilofer Khan and Dr. Waeil Elmisalati, have the training, experience and compassion to provide the best oral care. Book your next appointment with us today!