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How Often Do You Really Need to be Flossing?

woman flossing her teethFlossing is an important step to keeping your teeth clean. Even though brushing gets the bulk of your teeth clean, the bristles can’t reach every surface area. That’s where the floss comes in. Rubbing the floss between teeth reaches these areas and cleans out the remaining particles so you can reduce bacteria, plaque, and tartar. Flossing is so important, we decided to answer the top five questions we get about flossing.

  1. How often should I floss?

It is recommended that you floss every time you brush your teeth, but at least once a day. Quality is more important than quantity. Doing one flossing well is much better than flossing poorly three times a day.

  1. Should I floss before or after brushing?

The best time to floss is before brushing your teeth. This is because it helps bring the particles out of the teeth and then you brush them away. The final step of cleaning your teeth is mouthwash or rinsing. The act of swishing a liquid will help completely remove these particles, even if they go back in a little between your teeth.

  1. What type of floss is best?

There are all kinds of floss on the market. In addition, there are all kinds of tools to help floss as well. Deciding what brand, type, and tools to assist (like threaders) are all based on personal preference. A more expensive floss is not necessarily better than a cheaper brand. The difference is usually in quality and thickness. If you don’t have teeth that are compacted, a less expensive brand will probably hold up just as well between your teeth as an expensive brand. Most people find that they have a specific preference on options that slide a little smoother, some are more rope-like, while others prefer to use little pre-threaded instead. Properly flossing your teeth can work with just about any brand.

  1. Can you replace floss with other products?

Patients often wonder if there are other ways to clean between teeth, aside from using floss. The three most common questions involve a water-stream flosser, toothpick, or mouthwash.

  • Water-stream flossers: These products shoot water through your teeth to free up particles and clean the area. These are fine to use as an alternative to traditional flossing. Pay special attention to make sure you are getting every space adequately before moving on. Simply spraying it around won’t get the job done.
  • Toothpick: Picking between your teeth does not properly clean between your teeth. The wood is too thick to get into tight spaces and can injure your gum tissue.
  • Mouthwash: While mouthwash is a great tool in keeping your mouth healthy, it does not replace flossing. Swishing helps to release particles that have already been loosened and are floating in the mouth. The scraping and pressure of the floss just isn’t something swishing mouthwash can accomplish.
  1. Does flossing really make a difference?

Yes! Flossing makes a tremendous difference in the condition of your teeth. We can tell if you have been flossing by the amount of plaque and decay in your mouth. It also helps prevent gum disease, which often shows up as bleeding, sensitive, swollen gums. Gum inflammation has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and inflammation in the blood vessels around your body. Flossing is also important to controlling blood sugars in diabetics. This small act can make a big difference.

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