Should I Floss My Teeth Every Time I Brush?
You want a perfect smile, so how do you make that happen? Everyone knows that you need to brush and floss your teeth, but the details can be harder to grasp. That’s why you’ve probably visited your dentist looking for answers, or maybe you’ve asked the same question of a few of your friends.
Here’s the answer, though it might not be the one you want: It depends! While some adults claim they find it hard to work flossing into their busy schedules, there’s absolutely no doubt that you should always floss at least once a day. If you need or want to floss more, you definitely can; in those situations, it’s a good idea to pair flossing with brushing.
Want to know more? Keep reading.
How Often Should I Brush Or Floss My Teeth?
Since flossing and brushing go hand in hand, settling on the best frequency for both becomes even more important. Most dentists recommend brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day: once before breakfast and once after dinner. As a baseline, that’s definitely a good rule of thumb.
Flossing and brushing before you eat breakfast keeps germs out of your mouth. More conveniently to some, it also helps get rid of that awful morning breath.
Cleaning your teeth after dinner serves much the same purpose, but it instead keeps your mouth refreshed and clean heading into sleep. Bacteria love to proliferate and grow after bedtime.
What about lunchtime cleaning? Many people don’t bother with it, but there’s some exciting evidence to suggest that it might be a good idea.
A recent study has shown that adding a third brushing session to your routine can pay dividends in an unusual place: your heart. This study found that people who brushed their teeth a third time were 12% less likely to develop heart disease. That’s encouraging news for smile enthusiasts all over the globe!
What Is The Proper Flossing Technique?
Did you know that only 30% of Americans floss their teeth daily? Some find it inconvenient, but others just struggle to grasp how flossing actually works. Thankfully, it’s quite simple.
Here’s a simple and easy technique to use when flossing, highly recommended by dentists everywhere:
- Break off a string of floss.
- Stretch the floss so it’s taut between your fingers and hold it steady.
- Gently bring the floss between your teeth in a smooth up-and-down motion.
- Don’t let the floss hit the gumline.
- When you’re approaching the gumline with the floss, instead embrace the nearest tooth with your floss and begin moving from side-to-side.
- Repeat for all teeth until clean. Make sure to get the sides of molars!
You should expect this regimen to take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. It’s best to do it in front of a mirror, so you know exactly where your floss is going. Some people find it helpful to set aside time each day to sit down and floss.
By following this technique, you’ll guarantee that you achieve the best smile possible when flossing. It’s important to emphasize that, when flossing, you need to exercise care and caution. Being too hard on your teeth can have serious consequences later.
What Happens If I Don’t Floss Regularly And Only Brush?
No matter how good your brushing technique is, you’re going to run into issues if you don’t floss. Think of your most recent meal: Whatever you ate, some bits and pieces undoubtedly got stuck between your teeth. Now that food’s sitting there, sometimes for days at a time.
It’s obvious how that can cause problems.
That food isn’t just food for you, after all. It’s food for the host of bacteria that live in your mouth. These hungry bacteria will use the food stuck between your teeth as energy.
What do they do with all that energy? They make a layer of plaque over your teeth. This harmful plaque can lead to cavities, gum disease and bad breath.
Gum disease can be a serious issue. If untreated, it can require major surgery to fix. Unfortunately, it isn’t a problem limited to the mouth, either: The inflammation in gum disease can cause problems elsewhere, too.
Like it or not, brushing your teeth isn’t good enough. You need to back up a rigorous brushing regimen with an equally rigorous flossing schedule. It’s the single best way to guarantee a healthy smile.
Can You “Over Floss” Your Teeth?
Yes and no. As long as you’re following the proper flossing technique and being gentle with your teeth, you can floss as often as you want. Dentists even recommend that some patients floss after every meal.
However, if you’re being too rough on your teeth, you absolutely can cause damage by flossing too much. Your gums, especially, can be quite vulnerable to vigorous flossing routines. That’s why it’s important to floss gently and carefully.
If I Haven’t Been Flossing, Can I “Catch Up” With Cleaning My Teeth?
Absolutely, as long as things haven’t gotten too bad. If you’ve suddenly realized just how important flossing is, start flossing immediately. If you’re lucky, then that – along with a few cleanings from a dental hygienist – will be enough to get you back on the right track.
If you’ve put off flossing for so long that you’ve developed periodontitis, things are harder to deal with. Periodontitis is the more severe form of gum disease, and it’s irreversible. Thankfully, even this severe disease can be managed through a combination of strict dental hygiene and oral surgery.
As long as you’re being careful, it’s never a bad idea to floss. In fact, flossing is the single biggest determinant in the health of your mouth. Some dentists say that they can tell whether a patient brushes or not based only on a quick glance at their gums.
If you’re ever in doubt, it’s a good idea to give your dentist a call. You should do that anyway to schedule a cleaning!
Are There Any Alternatives To Flossing (such as water floss and interdental picks)?
Definitely! The American Dental Association approves both water floss and interdental picks for use as a floss replacement.
Many patients find water floss a lot more comfortable to use than regular floss. The way it works is simple: You aim a jet of water between your teeth and eviscerate plaque. The appliance is easily reusable and might wind up saving you money in the long run.
Interdental picks aren’t a bad option either, especially if you use an orthodontic appliance. These can be both easier to maneuver with and softer on your gums. Your dentist might have recommended one of these to you if they think you’re in danger of flossing too roughly.
These flossing alternatives are great to use, especially if cleared with your dentist first. Don’t hesitate to ask them if you have any questions or concerns.
Don’t think that mouthwash is a substitute for flossing, though! While it’s great for giving your mouth that nice and refreshing feeling, it’s not a substitute for flossing your teeth with proper technique.
Flossing: Your Ticket To a Perfect Smile
There are all sorts of reasons to floss at least once a day. Sometimes you even need to floss each time you brush, and that’s great to do, too. Even if you haven’t been keeping up on your flossing, it’s never too late to start.
Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that flossing is the single most important thing you can do to get yourself a perfect smile. It isn’t just important. With new and exciting tools and techniques from dentists around the world, it can be simple and fun, too.
What do you have to lose? Start flossing today!