Dental Tips Blog


Do I Really Need to Floss Every Day?

Posted in Gum Disease

Going to the dentist means hearing the same question once again, “Do you floss regularly?” Dentists understand the importance of flossing every day, but unfortunately most of the patients do not. According to a national survey, only 49% of Americans floss their teeth regularly, and 10% say they never floss. Flossing is one of the most difficult personal habits to get people to do, yet it is also one of the most effective methods of preventing disease – within and outside of the mouth.

Many people simply do not understand the importance of flossing. They naively believe that brushing their teeth is enough to keep their mouths healthy, but it simply isn’t. Brushing is important, but it’s not the most important. In fact, if you were going to choose between brushing and flossing, choose flossing.

Flossing reaches between the teeth where brushing can not reach. The bacteria that builds up between the teeth is way more damaging than the plaque and bacteria that forms on the front and back of the teeth. Saliva, the tongue, and eating fibrous foods (such as apples, carrots, etc.) take care of removing most of the plaque that is on the front and back of the teeth. But nothing can take the place of flossing – is it the only effective method of reaching and cleaning between the teeth. It is the bacteria between the teeth that causes tooth decay. The bacteria between the teeth causes gum disease. And many health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, and certain cancers can be linked back directly to a person’s periodontal disease. The gums are a living tissue, and any infection in the gums passes straight through to the rest of the body.

So if you want to know if you really need to floss every day, the answer is Yes, you should. By flossing, you are not only taking proper care of your oral health, but you are promoting optimal health for the rest of your body as well.

Posted on behalf of Group Health Dental


Which Comes First: Brushing or Flossing?

In combination with regular dental cleanings and exams, daily flossing and brushing is the cornerstone of good preventative dental care.  There are numerous theories about whether flossing should come before brushing, or vice versa. One take is that by brushing first, you can remove a majority of the debris in the mouth, leaving only the small amounts between the teeth which need to be removed by flossing afterward. Hence, follow up with some floss to remove the smaller particles that are left after a good brushing.

Others say that flossing is better to do before you brush. A key argument on this is that fluoride from toothpaste may not be able to access areas between your teeth unless you remove the plaque from these areas first. Flossing before brushing could possibly allow for better fluoride contact in these key areas. However, flossing before brushing still means there is a large amount of plaque and food residue floating around the teeth, and may not allow for optimal cleaning with floss.

To ask whether or not you should brush or floss first, probably means that you’re actually doing both on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many people avoid flossing completely. The fact of the matter is, if you’re flossing, no matter what order it falls in with brushing, you’re doing yourself a favor. Flossing helps eliminate bacteria in areas that brushing will always be unable to reach. It also brings oxygen into areas that develop gum disease, and helps eliminate gum infection, prevent tartar buildup, and reduces the risk of decay. Wonderful tooth brushers can still develop gum disease and decay between their teeth, so as long as you’re flossing at least once per day, tightly around each tooth and extending down under the gumlines, you’re doing it right.


Alternatives to Flossing

Posted in Gum Disease

Let’s face it: nobody likes flossing. Well, almost nobody. Most dental patients find flossing tedious, cumbersome and if not done regularly, uncomfortable. Unfortunately even meticulous toothbrushing does not clean between the teeth or under the gums in areas that often develop gum disease. If left alone, plaque can destroy the bone structure and gum connection in these areas, resulting in periodontal disease and tooth loss. For some people just the dexterity needed for flossing is impossible.

There are various alternatives to and methods of flossing that can help rid these areas of bacterial plaque.

Waterpik / Water flossers

Water flossing is the most efficient method of plaque removal in lieu of flossing. Water flossers can remove plaque biofilm deep between the teeth and gums and are extremely easy to use.

Floss Picks

Floss picks can be easier to handle and use, especially on younger dental patients. Straight floss picks are best used on children, while “Y” shaped floss picks work best for adults as they allow you to clean between the back teeth easier.

Rubber Tip Stimulators

Orange in appearance, rubber tip stimulators are often found on the opposite end of certain toothbrushes. The stimulator is useful for individuals with dental bridges, gum recession or bone loss to help stimulate blood flow to the area through superficial stimulation.


Men tend to be big fans of toothpicks. While toothpicks do not clean under the gums between the teeth, they are useful for removing debris between the teeth. Some types of toothpicks also have small bristles on the end, functioning as a mini-brush for extra plaque removal.


This Christmas tree shaped brush with the appearance of a pipe cleaner on the end of a long handle can be useful for cleaning areas between orthodontic brackets, under dental bridges or between teeth with large spaces.


Importance of Flossing Teeth

Following basic good oral hygiene habits like can help you avoid cavities and prevent gum disease, tooth loss, and bad breath.  Along with seeing your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and a checkups, proper brushing and flossing will help stop problems before they start.  Preventing problems is much easier, less painful, and less expensive than treating tooth decay and other dental issues.

Experts recommend brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing once a day.  Most Americans brush their teeth daily, but only about half of all Americans floss daily.  About 10% of Americans never floss their teeth at all. This dismal flossing record is unfortunate because dentists say that flossing is probably even more important than brushing your teeth, particularly for preventing gum disease.

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in America.  Even though gum disease and tooth loss is almost entirely preventable, about 25% of Americans over the age of 65 have lost all of their natural teeth.

One of the main causes of gum disease is the build-up of plaque and tartar around the gum line.  Brushing your teeth removes plaque from the surface of your teeth, but brushing does not remove the plaque between your teeth. This is why flossing daily is so important. Flossing daily can remove the plaque between teeth before it can harden into tartar.  Flossing can also remove plaque along the gum line which is another area that is hard to reach by brushing.

If you find flossing difficult, talk to your dentist about alternatives.  There are flat flosses that can get between teeth that are very close together and reduce floss “shredding”.  Also, floss holders make flossing easier and more convenient for some people.


No Excuse for Not Flossing

Along with regular checkups and dental cleanings, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are important components off a good oral health program.  Good oral health habits can prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, yet only about half of Americans floss daily and about ten percent never floss at all.  There are a wide range of excuses for not flossing, but the reality is that there is an answer for almost every situation.

Many people only floss when there is food stuck between their teeth.  However, the most important reason to floss is to remove plaque and bacteria from between the teeth, not food particles.  Plaque and bacteria accumulate between teeth whether there are noticeable food particles or not.  Removing this plaque and bacteria by flossing is critical for preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Some people claim that they don’t floss because it hurts and makes their gums bleed.  Properly done on a daily basis, flossing should not be a painful or bloody experience.  The likelihood is that the person has some gingivitis which the flossing will help correct.  If you floss daily for two weeks and your gums are still sore and bleeding, see your dentist.

Many people avoid flossing because the floss catches between their teeth due to the teeth being too close together.  For these people, there are special types of floss that are flat, very slippery, or that stretches thin.  Sometimes just switching to ordinary waxed floss will get good results.  If you cannot find a floss that works for you, talk to your dentist about your options.

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