Ready for a quick quiz? Let’s go!
All dentists agree: for a healthy mouth, flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing. Floss can reach the places a toothbrush can’t, clearing out tiny bits of food that get trapped in our gums or between our teeth.
And getting rid of those bits is vital. Trapped food grows bacteria, and bacteria leads to gum disease.
Furthermore, gum disease can lead to other health problems. New studies show that bacteria in a less-than-healthy mouth can spread to other parts of your body.4
There are different kinds of floss. You may have to try a few to see what works for you.
Mouthhealthy.org offers a simple illustrated fact sheet on how to floss your own teeth or your children’s.
The American Dental Association (ADA) says it really doesn’t really matter if you floss before or after you brush. But some say that, when you clean the spaces between your teeth before you brush, you help the fluoride in your toothpaste work better by giving it more tooth surface to cover.6
However, others say that brushing first will remove some plaque, which makes flossing go faster.7
Some sources say it’s best to floss before bedtime. It’s believed that our mouths produce less saliva at night, and saliva helps keep bacteria from growing. Thus, it’s important to go to bed with your teeth as clean as they can be.
The American Dental Association says a good flossing takes about two minutes. If you’re too tired at bedtime, maybe first thing in the morning would work better. Or you could floss after lunch.
One tip from experts: find something else you can do while flossing. Watch TV, listen to some music, whatever helps you be consistent. At the end of the day – or the beginning, or middle, depending on when you choose to do it – the American Dental Association says it’s just important that you floss, period.
Here’s another source for flossing tips and pointers.
So find the floss that works best for you, find two minutes every day, and start a healthy habit that can help your teeth last a lifetime.
This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical, legal, financial, or other professional advice or used in place of consulting a licensed professional. You should consult with an applicable licensed professional to determine what is right for you.
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