The short answer is yes, but you’ve likely heard, and ignored, that advice many times before. There are a lot of common excuses for not flossing, and we hear them all the time:
- Flossing is hard
- I brush my teeth twice a day – that’s enough
- I don’t have the time…and on and on.
The truth is brushing is not enough on it’s own. Many dentists believe that flossing is the best daily practice to prevent tooth loss and gum diseases. Once you learn the correct technique, flossing doesn’t have to be difficult either. Taking care of your teeth may take a little longer, but what’s a few extra minutes a day when you’re saving yourself a lot of pain and expense?
Here’s everything you need to know about flossing:
Why should you floss?
Just as regular cleanings help maintain teeth health and prevent serious problems, so does flossing. Flossing doesn’t just remove food particles from teeth, it also removes plaque. Plaque that isn’t removed becomes tartar. While you can remove plaque by brushing and flossing regularly, tartar can only be removed by a dentist. Tartar build up leads to gingivitis which can become periodontal disease. Periodontal diseases eventually leads to bone and tooth loss. So flossing is necessary if you want to keep your teeth.
Is it necessary to floss everyday?
Yes. You should floss everyday for three-five minutes, but the key is to make flossing a habit. Just as you make time to brush your teeth, you should also make time for flossing. Keeping floss beside your toothbrush can act as an effective reminder, but you could also carry it with you so you can use it whenever you find the time. Stuck in traffic? Floss!
How should you floss?
Here’s how the American Dental Association describes the process:
- Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand, the rest around the other middle finger.
- Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, and gently guide it between teeth.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, form a C shape to follow the contours of the tooth.
- Hold the floss firmly against the tooth, and move the floss gently up and down.
- Repeat with the other tooth, and then repeat the entire process with the rest of your teeth, “unspooling” fresh sections of floss as you go along.
Should it hurt when you floss?
Flossing should not be a painful experience. Bleeding or pain in the gums is a result of gum disease, which is precisely what flossing helps prevent. If you have not flossed regularly in the past, introducing floss into your daily routine may cause some bleeding but it should not persist for more than two weeks. If the discomfit does persist, see a dentist.
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