For many of us, this can be the most annoying part when it comes to cleaning our teeth on a daily basis. Trying to clean the spaces in between our teeth is irritating and sometimes painful – but it’s important and necessary. Just like you brush your teeth every day, flossing should be part of your daily routine.
Richard Price, a spokesperson for the ADA, says “You cannot effectively vacuum a house with only one attachment. You need other attachments to get into the nooks and crannies. That’s what floss does.”
There are many benefits to regularly flossing your teeth. Dental floss can help clear food waste and plaque from the spaces between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach. As a result, flossing helps prevent gum diseases, tooth decay, and bad breath. Some things to keep in mind to make the most out of flossing include using dental floss every day, flossing at least once a day, being gently when using the floss to avoid damaging gum tissue, and if long threads of regular dental floss are too hard to hold, use a floss holder.
Both waxed and unwaxed dental floss work well to clean the spaces between your teeth. If the spaces are tight, waxed floss may glide more easily between them. The bottom line is that flossing every day is more important than which floss you choose.
“Any floss that slips easily between teeth without hurting and damaging the gums is the floss for you,” says Price. “Ask your dentist for a recommendation. Some have samples you can try. Waxed, unwaxed, high-tech teflon types, nylon types? Just use it!”
A floss holder or other interdental cleaning tool may be helpful if you have trouble handling long pieces of floss due to arthritis, vision difficulties, or discomfort, but you must follow instructions or ask your dentist how to use them properly so you don’t hurt your gums.
I hear all sorts of excuses from patients for not flossing, like the classic “Food doesn’t get caught in between my teeth, so I don’t need to floss”, “I don’t know how to floss”, “I don’t have time to floss”, and “My teeth are spaced too close together to floss”