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Flossing and brushing are both great ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy. You should floss once a day before you brush. This can help reduce your risk of gum disease and other oral conditions.
Flossing isn’t just about avoiding those embarrassing “you have something in your teeth” moments. It’s also an essential step in any healthy dental hygiene routine.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about flossing. That includes info on when you should floss, how to floss, and other ways you can keep your teeth in tip-top shape.
Flossing should be the first step in your daily dental hygiene routine. Flossing helps dislodge food particles from the hard-to-reach places in your mouth. If you floss after you brush, those particles might be left in your mouth.
Additionally, studies suggest flossing before brushing might make the fluoride in toothpaste more effective. But we need more research to show that’s 10/10 legit.
BTW, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing once a day and brushing twice a day. Whether you want to floss at night or in the morning is up to you.
Flossing offers a mouthful of benefits for your teeth and gums. Here are the dental deets.
Prevents gum disease
Periodontal disease (aka gum disease) is a mouth infection that affects the bones and soft tissues that support your teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 47.2 percent of adults in the United States 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.
Flossing on the reg can help you avoid gum disease symptoms like:
- bad breath
- loose teeth
- painful chewing
- red or swollen gums
- bleeding or painful gums
- gums that pull away from your teeth
Removes plaque and tartar buildup
Flossing helps remove plaque from between your teeth. This is uber important because plaque can calcify and turn into tartar. Tartar is bad news and can make it harder for you to floss or brush correctly. It also bumps up your chances of tooth decay and gum disease.
Fights bad breath
When food debris is trapped in between teeth and in the gum line, it can leave you with yucky breath. Flossing reaches more of the tooth surface than brushing alone and can help keep smelly odors at bay.
Might benefit overall health
Gum disease is associated with other conditions such as:
So, maintaining a healthy mouth might help reduce your risk of these concerns.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a floss boss:
- Hold about 18 inches of dental floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between two teeth and gently slide it back and forth.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth on both your top and bottom jaws. Psst. Molars need some TLC, too!
- Throw the floss away.
- Follow up with the rest of your dental hygiene routine.
Reminder: You should floss before brushing once a day. You can also keep some floss in your bag or pocket just in case you eat an everything bagel. Those seeds are no joke.
While it’s a great start, flossing on its own isn’t enough. Here are some other ways you can keep your mouth healthy.
- Brush twice a day. Brush once in the morning and once at night for 2 minutes each time.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride prevents tooth decay and provides a protective barrier against cavities.
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Medium- and hard-bristle toothbrushes can damage your delicate gums. Soft bristles are a gentler alternative.
- Brush or scrape your tongue. Give your tongue a good scraping to remove bacteria and food particles.
- Swish swish. Swish and rinse with plain water after eating to dislodge any food particles that may be stuck in your teeth. Or use mouthwash, which kills leftover bacteria and leaves you with fresh breath.
Most dentists suggest getting a cleaning every 6 months. But you should pop in for a visit if you experience any symptoms like:
- loose teeth
- dental abscess
- persistent toothache
- cracked or chipped tooth
- receding or bleeding gums
- sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods
- fillings or crowns that are loose or have fallen out
- dry socket (only associated with extractions)
Flossing once a day is a vital part of any healthy oral hygiene routine. Flossing once a day can help prevent gum disease, oral infections, bad breath, cavities, and tartar buildup. You should floss before you brush because it can help dislodge food particles, bacteria, and other gunk that’s stuck between your teeth.
Just keep in mind that flossing isn’t the only important aspect of oral health. You should also brush twice a day, use oral rinses, and get professional cleaning twice a year.