Make daily flossing a New Year’s resolution

Americans looking for a New Year’s resolution in 2018 — especially one they can keep — should consider flossing every day.

According to USA Today, which spoke to two experts, flossing is among the resolutions that are easy to keep and have the biggest payoff, along with getting more sleep and walking more.

Although some have questioned the benefits of cleaning between your teeth, the American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth, using an interdental cleaner (like floss), once a day. It can help prevent cavities and gum disease, according to MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website.

Cleaning between your teeth helps remove a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that fees 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.

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.

According to MouthHealthy.org, the most important thing about flossing is to just do it. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when you floss. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care. People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from cleaning between their teeth first thing in the morning or after lunch. Others might like to go to bed with a clean mouth.

In addition, 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 health habit for life.

For more information on flossing, including a step-by-step guide on how to do it properly, visit MouthHealthy.org.

© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.