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A Guide to Flossing Your Teeth

dental floss

Cleaning the spaces between your teeth and along your gums with dental floss is as important to your oral health as cleaning your teeth with a toothbrush. Just like you brush your teeth every day, flossing should be part of your daily routine.

The Benefits of Flossing to Your Oral Health

There are many benefits to regularly flossing your teeth. Dental floss can help clear food debris and plaque from the spaces between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach. As a result, flossing helps prevent gum or periodontal diseases, tooth decay, and bad breath.

There are certain things to keep in mind to get the most out of flossing:

  • Use dental floss or an interdental cleaner every day.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Be gentle when using dental floss so you avoid damaging gum tissue.
  • If long threads of regular dental floss are too hard for you to hold, use a floss holder.
  • A Variety of Dental Cleaning Products

There are a mind boggling variety of dental cleaning tools. These include:

  • Waxed dental floss
  • Unwaxed dental floss
  • Interdental cleaning aids, including picks and special sticks
  • Oral irrigators, which use water to remove plaque caught between teeth
  • Mouth rinses

Both waxed and unwaxed dental floss work well to clean the spaces between your teeth. If the spaces are tight, waxed floss may glide more easily between them. The bottom line, says Price, is that flossing every day is more important to your oral health than which floss you choose.

A floss holder or other interdental cleaning tool may be helpful if you have trouble handling long pieces of floss due to arthritis, vision difficulties, or discomfort, but you must follow instructions or ask your dentist how to use them properly so you don’t hurt your gums.

Oral irrigators can help remove food caught between your teeth, too; but they shouldn’t replace dental floss and toothbrushing. Likewise, most mouthwashes won’t do an effective job of keeping your mouth healthy on their own. Many are used simply to cover up breath odor, although some over-the-counter fluoride mouth rinses approved by the ADA can help prevent decay, and some anti-gingivitis or anti-plaque mouth rinses can help fight periodontal diseases.

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