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Do I need to floss?Many people who don’t floss say it’s because they already clean their teeth with regular brushing, and view flossing as just an extra but unnecessary precaution, something they don’t need to do because their teeth are healthy. But they’re wrong. It also does not help that there was some confusing news about flossing. These claim that flossing is not essential to your daily oral hygiene, despite vouching for oral prophylaxis, professional teeth cleaning, and frequent brushing. There are also fewer studies about flossing, particularly those that confirm the importance of regular flossing just as much as brushing. However, here’s where they are wrong: your toothbrush cannot effectively reach your entire mouth, especially between the teeth, which are not visible surfaces. It’s only with interdental cleaning, like flossing, that cavity-causing plaque build-up can be removed. Simply, flossing can remove debris lodged between teeth: something the bristles of a toothbrush can’t do. Even when you brush regularly but don’t floss, you are at higher risk of cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
How often should I floss?We all know that we need to brush at least twice a day. Brushing cleans the visible surfaces of the teeth, but it’s flossing that cleans the hard-to-reach places between teeth, and along the gum line. To prevent plaque build-up and gum disease, you need to floss daily, at least once a day. If you were rushing to brush your teeth after an earlier meal, flossing during your next brush allows you to remove the hard-to-reach plaque, bacteria and food particles. So, aim to floss as much as you brush for increased protection against cavities and gum disease. Flossing after every meal removes debris stuck between your teeth and prevents plaque build-up outright. There’s no such thing as too much flossing — unless you’re doing it incorrectly and applying so much pressure that it damages your teeth and gums.
How to FlossWhile there’s no such thing as flossing too much, it’s important to do it correctly to remove debris effectively and prevent damage to your teeth and gums. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get in the habit of flossing, you’ll wonder why it hasn’t always been part of your regular oral hygiene routine. Here’s how to floss correctly in five easy steps:
- Break off a piece of floss about 18 inches long and wind most of the piece around the middle finger of one hand. Wind the remainder around the middle finger of your other hand, leaving a strand in between.
- Hold the floss between your index fingers and thumbs, then slide the strand between two teeth.
- Move the floss up and down. Make sure to reach the gum line, then curve it and gently slip it under the gum next to one tooth.
- Clean under the gum of the adjoining tooth. Move the floss up and down tightly against each tooth to clean between the teeth.
- Gently slide the floss out and unwind a fresh section to repeat the process and floss between all teeth.