Is Flossing Really That Important?
As most of us know, brushing our teeth at least twice a day (and sometimes more) is one of the most important routines in our daily oral health, but what about flossing? Is it really that important? Does it have to be part of our teeth-cleaning routine? Can’t we just forget about it and keep brushing like we always have?
The simple answer is that flossing really is important, and skipping it—although tempting at times—is a bad idea. While brushing well will remove plaque and debris from the surface of the teeth, flossing does more in harder-to-reach places. With that in mind, let’s find out more about why flossing is important and why you need to do it every day.
What Flossing Does vs. Brushing
Picture this: you diligently brush your teeth twice a day, maintaining that squeaky-clean feeling as much as you can. It feels fine. It feels good. So you might wonder why you also need to floss. You can just skip this part, can’t you?
While brushing your teeth is, of course, an essential part of oral care, it definitely has its limitations. Toothbrush bristles (although better today than they have ever been in the past) can only reach the surfaces of your teeth, leaving the tight spaces between them and along the gumline uncleaned.
Flossing acts as a sidekick to brushing, targeting those hard-to-reach areas with ease. The floss slips between your teeth, removing stubborn plaque buildup and dislodging leftover food hidden in the nooks and crannies of your mouth. By effectively cleaning these hidden spaces, flossing helps prevent gum disease, cavities, and bad breath from creeping up on you and causing further complications.
Think of brushing as the front line of defense clearing away the obvious enemies, while flossing is the secret agent infiltrating enemy territory, eliminating hidden threats. When you think of it like this, it’s easier to remember why it needs to be done.
Tips for Flossing
Now that we understand the importance of flossing, let’s look at some helpful tips to make this dental sidekick even more effective as part of your oral health routine.
First, make sure you use a good enough amount of floss. You’ll need about 18 inches, and this should give you enough to work with. Wind most of the floss around your middle fingers leaving a small section that’ll go between your teeth. Gently guide the floss using your thumb and index fingers, sliding it up and down in a gentle zigzag motion.
Next, you need to pay special attention to your gum line. Curve the floss into a “c” shape around each tooth and glide it beneath the gumline to remove plaque and debris. Be thorough but gentle so you don’t irritate your gums.
If you come across any particularly tight areas or have trouble with traditional floss, you might want to try floss threaders. These are thin, flexible devices that allow you to thread floss into hard-to-reach areas, including dental bridges and braces.
Plus, don’t forget to floss each side of every tooth, including the back molars that often get overlooked. Take your time and be patient, even if it feels awkward at first. Keep practicing and consistently floss to allow this to become a normal part of your routine.
How Frequently Should You Floss?
When it comes to flossing, consistency is crucial. Ideally, you should make it a daily habit to floss your teeth at least once a day. This will ensure that you effectively and efficiently remove plaque and food particles that accumulate throughout the day—so bedtime flossing is a great idea if you want to protect your teeth.
Flossing picks, also known as floss picks or floss holders, have gained popularity as a convenient alternative to traditional floss. These small plastic tools feature a short strand of floss attached to a handle, making them easier to slip between your teeth.
While flossing picks do offer convenience, they often fall short in comparison to traditional floss. The main drawback is that they may not reach all the right spaces and crevices as effectively as real floss will. Traditional floss, with its flexibility, can contour to the unique shape of each tooth, accessing even the most challenging areas.
On top of this, flossing picks might not provide the same level of control and precision as traditional floss. The ability to glide the floss gently beneath the gum line and along the sides of each tooth is crucial for thorough cleaning and plaque removal—which is easier to achieve when you use good old-fashioned traditional floss.
Ultimately, while flossing picks can be useful for on-the-go situations, they shouldn’t generally be used instead of traditional floss as a regular part of your oral health routine. When it comes to achieving the best dental health, traditional floss wins the race.
Making It Part of Your Routine
Making flossing a part of your bedtime routine will solve any issues here. When it becomes a habit—like washing your face or brushing your teeth—you won’t even have to think about it. By flossing before you get into bed, you can have fresher breath in the morning and additionally remove all the lingering bacteria. By dedicating a few minutes each day to this essential task, you’ll benefit from healthier, cleaner teeth and gums and a great smile. Surely that’s worth it?
Use Real Floss—Waterpiks Aren't as Effective
When it comes to flossing, we’ve seen how traditional floss wins out over flossing picks, but what about Waterpiks? In the end, the tried and true traditional floss is always the best option. While Waterpiks, or water flossers, have certainly gained popularity, they shouldn’t replace traditional flossing entirely. Waterpiks use a stream of water to clean between the teeth and along the gum line, but they may not be as effective when it comes to removing plaque and debris.
Real floss allows you to physically scrape away buildup, ensuring a thorough cleaning of the entire tooth. Its ability to reach tight spaces and contour to the shape of your teeth gives it a level of precision that Waterpiks simply can’t match. So, while Waterpiks are a useful extra tool, don’t ditch the real floss.