How Important Is Flossing?


You’ve probably heard the mantra “brush twice a day and floss daily” since you first went to the dentist when you were a child. The American Dental Association has made this recommendation for decades. Have you ever wondered how important flossing really is to your health? Here’s what you should know.

The sticky substance on your teeth is called “plaque.” Plaque has bacteria that likes leftover food in your mouth. The bacteria releases acids that cause cavities and eat away at the enamel on your teeth. Brushing removes a lot of the plaque, but your brush doesn’t always get between the teeth. Flossing removes that plaque to prevent tartar buildup.

Plaque hardens into a substance called “tartar.” Tartar collects along the gum line and causes gum disease. The substance is so hard that only your dentist can remove it from your teeth. Regular dental cleanings prevent tartar buildup, but when you let it go for a long time, the removal process is much more complicated.

How to Floss

If you use dental floss, take about 18-inches and hold it between the thumb and your first finger. Weave the floss around the bottom of each tooth. Try to go below the gum line and be gentle — don’t force the floss around your teeth. You could hurt your gums if you snap it too hard. Just slide the floss up and down on the tooth. You can also use interdental cleaners to clean your teeth. Research shows that those types of cleaners work just as effectively as floss, provided you use them daily.

If you have trouble flossing due to arthritis or have dental work that makes flossing difficult, your dentist may have options that help, such as a water flosser. You can chat to find a solution to keep your teeth healthy.

Remove Food Stuck Between Your Teeth Right Away

The ADA recommends that you floss once a day. It doesn’t matter if you brush or floss first, whatever works for you is great. However, if you have food stuck between your teeth, grab your floss and remove it as soon as possible. Don’t use your fingernails, silverware or other “non-traditional” dental tools to work food out of your teeth; you can hurt your gums doing this. Only use tools designed to be used to clean between your teeth.

Talk to Your Dentist If You Need More Information

Look for products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance that are proven to be safe for your dental care. Ask a dentist, like a dentist in Cary, NC, about flossing if you are unsure that you’re doing it right. Flossing is important to your oral health and overall well-being.

Thanks to Alliance Dentistry for their insight into how important flossing is for your dental health.