Smiling woman flossing her teeth

Flossing: Do I Really Have To?

Maintaining proper oral hygiene requires the cultivation of several good oral care habits which, when performed together, thoroughly clean the numerous areas of the mouth where bacteria and plaque can build up - and potentially lead to tartar, cavities, and even more serious issues. One of the most important of these habits is flossing, cleaning between the teeth and under the gumline. Learn more about the importance of flossing and how to do it right.

Why It Is Important

Interdental cleaning is a vital part of good oral hygiene. Using dental floss daily is an effective way to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles trapped between the teeth. But did you know that flossing can reduce the risk of developing tartar - a hardened, yellow deposit (calcified dental plaque) that coats the teeth and gums? Tartar develops on the teeth when plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, and the bacterial film calcifies and remains on the teeth and gumline. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Unfortunately, tartar can only be removed by your dental hygienist and/or dentist with dental instruments or an ultrasonic scaling device.

Luckily, using dental floss once a day is a great step towards preventing plaque buildup. Start incorporating floss or an interdental cleaning device into your oral hygiene routine. This will ensure that bacteria and plaque are effectively removed from surfaces that a toothbrush can't reach.

How to Use Dental Floss Correctly

Now that you know that flossing is essential for maintaining a healthy mouth. You should know that doing it correctly makes this step beneficial. Use this helpful guideline to learn how to floss:

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss. Wrap each end around your index fingers to prevent it from slipping.
  • Hold the floss firmly between your thumb and forefingers.
  • Insert the floss gently between your teeth.
  • Once the floss is on the gumline, form a C shape that curves around one tooth. Then move the floss gently in a back and forth and up and down motion. Use a new section of floss and repeat on the other sides of the rest of the teeth.
  • Don't reuse, and discard once done.

You may experience bleeding gums when you first begin to floss. This is normal and should stop soon, but if it persists and is severe, you should consult with your dentist as soon as possible.

Toothbrushing alone doesn't clean the mouth sufficiently but combining it with flossing will help prevent dental issues and maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. Remember to visit your dentist regularly for early detection and treatment of dental issues.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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