When Should I Floss?

Somewhat unsurprisingly, only 30% of the population floss daily. Typically men are less likely to floss than women, and people aged 75 or older are the worst demographic when it comes to regular flossing.

That being said, flossing should be a key part of your oral health routine, helping to lift and remove dental plaque and food debris from in between the teeth, prevent tooth decay and banish bad breath.

So, why do so few people take the time to floss? It could be because they don’t think they have the time. Maybe they can’t be bothered with the effort involved. Or, most likely, they don’t know how or when they should be flossing. If you fall into the latter category, don’t worry. Within the below guide, you will discover everything you need to know about flossing your teeth, including how to floss, when you should be flossing, and how often you should be flossing.

Why do I need to floss?

If you are still not convinced why flossing is important, then you may be interested to know the below facts:

  • Flossing does up to 40% of the work in removing sticky bacteria or plaque from your teeth and gums.
  • Flossing and good oral health can help to reduce your risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
  • Flossing can help to prevent gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.
  • Flossing offers a low-cost way to care for your mouth and teeth.
  • Flossing can help to protect tooth enamel.
  • Flossing can lead to better breath and a whiter smile.
  • Flossing can help to prevent periodontal disease.
  • Flossing is vital for taking care of dental implants.

How to floss properly

Dental floss is a thin, soft thread that is designed to be easy to use. However, if you do struggle with standard dental floss, you may want to ask your dentist about other options, such as dental tape, which is thicker.

When flossing, you should try not to be too aggressive as this can harm your gum line. Instead, use a firm but gentle motion to scrap the teeth from the top down.

Check out our step-by-step guide to flossing below:

  • Use about 45cm of floss.
  • Wind some around one finger on each hand.
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, leaving no slack.
  • Use a gentle rocking motion to guide the dental floss between your teeth.
  • When the floss reaches your gumline, curve it into a C shape against your tooth until you feel resistance.
  • Hold the floss against your tooth and gently scrape the side.
  • Repeat on the other side of the gap.
  • Repeat for all your teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth when finished.
  • Try to stick to a regular pattern, so you do not miss out any teeth.

When should I floss?

Many people are unsure about whether they should be flossing before or after they eat and if it is best to floss before or after brushing.

To answer the first question, while you do not have to floss after each meal, this can be a good idea if you feel like you have any bits of food stuck between your teeth.

When it comes to whether you should floss before or after you brush, it is recommended that you floss first.

Although you may currently brush your teeth and then floss as an afterthought, it is actually much better for your oral hygiene routine not to do this. This is because if you remove any food, plaque, or bacteria during the flossing process and you have already brushed your teeth, it will be left to circulate in your mouth until the next time you brush.

However, when you floss first and then brush, the brushing action removes these released particles from your mouth and effectively removes plaque and bacteria.

Some studies also suggest that fluoride toothpaste is able to do its job better once the particles have been removed from your teeth.

In terms of what time of day you should floss, while you can choose to do it first thing in the morning or in the afternoon, many people prefer to floss last thing at night to prevent any food or debris from remaining in the crevices of their teeth overnight.

How often should I floss?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you clean between your teeth using floss once each day. They also recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste.
However, if you eat a diet that is rich in hard, sticky, or stringy foods, you may feel more comfortable flossing more than once, such as after each meal. As long as you floss gently and do not cause any harm to your gums, there is no reason why you can’t floss more than once a day if you wish as part of your dental care routine.

What are the alternatives to dental floss?
If you struggle to use dental floss, there are other products that you can use to clean in between your teeth. These include:

·         Dental tape

  • Pre-threaded flossers
  • Water flossers
  • Powered air flossers
  • Wooden or plastic picks
  • Tiny floss brushes, also known as proxy brushes

You can always ask your dentist for further advice on picking the right tool to floss your teeth with.

Can I floss with braces?

If you or your child wears braces, you may be wondering if you need to floss. The answer is yes. When you are wearing braces, you should aim to floss regularly and thoroughly to maintain good oral health.

If you are struggling to floss with braces, you may want to try a floss threader that can get the floss under the wires or interdental flossing brushes, which clean any food or debris that get caught on the brackets, wires, and in between the teeth.

Do you need further advice on flossing or any other aspect of your oral health? Here at Biltmore Avenue Family Dentistry, our friendly and experienced team are ready and waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

Get in touch with our Asheville dentist here and see how we can help you and your family to enjoy a brighter, whiter smile and superior oral health.