Do you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time? Is mouthwash part of your daily routine? Have you seen your dentist lately? You could be doing all these smart things for your oral health, but you could still do more.
The American Dental Association recommends that you clean between your teeth every day with floss or a comparable cleaner. Here’s why, along with helpful tips to make flossing easier.
Why flossing is so important
Dental floss gets in the nooks and crannies where your toothbrush can’t reach. Floss removes food, bacteria and plaque from between your teeth and underneath your gum line. This reduces your risk for cavities and gum disease. Reducing gum disease is particularly important as more than 47% of adults 30 and older have some form of gum disease.1
Surveys show that 8% to 20% of Americans never floss!2
How to make flossing easier
People with poor vision, cognitive issues, chronic diseases or physical disabilities can have trouble flossing. They may need assistance from others or alternative means of flossing. Other people may find flossing painful, difficult, unpleasant or time-consuming. However, it’s more than worth it for your smile to overcome these barriers to flossing.
If you have trouble flossing, try these tips to make flossing daily easier:
Talk to your dentist.
Your dentist can recommend the best way to floss or other types of tooth cleaners — also called interdental cleaners — based on the spacing between your teeth, the health of your gums and any dental work you have had done. Some of the many effective alternatives to traditional floss your dentist may recommend include dental picks, interdental brushes, water flossers, air flossers, floss holders, floss threaders, dental tape and super flossers.
Stick with it.
If you are just beginning to floss, your gums may bleed or hurt. The discomfort should ease after a couple of weeks. If not, you may be flossing too hard. Check with your dentist if bleeding or pain persists.
You only need to floss once a day and you can do it at your convenience. It doesn’t take much time and it can help you avoid expensive, time-consuming dental problems down the road. You can floss before or after brushing your teeth as long as you do a thorough job.
Only use flossing tools that have been recommended by your dentist. Don’t be one of the 42% of people who have used questionable alternatives like fingernails, paper, cutlery and hair.3 They’ve noted feeling pain using these unsafe, unsanitary, ineffective means of cleaning between their teeth.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
3American Dental Association