We all know the joke of flossing only before your dental appointment. Unfortunately, your dentist can definitely tell that this is the case. Generally, you are supposed to floss at least once a day, or more if you are eating foods that stick in your teeth, such as corn. But is flossing really necessary? What does flossing actually do for your oral hygiene?

What Does Flossing Do?

Flossing provides a number of health benefits. Firstly, flossing helps remove food debris that may be stuck between teeth or in the gums. It also helps scrape away plaque and bacteria. Flossing can also fortify the gums, making them tougher. Flossing also reduces the risk of developing cavities and gingivitis.

Bleeding Gums and Flossing

If you are starting to floss after a long time of not, your gums may bleed. However, this should not discourage you. Over time, your gums will toughen up to resist the floss, which is good. However, if your gums bleed after adjusting to flossing, you may have gingivitis. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist for an evaluation.

Using Floss With Braces

You should always floss, even with braces. However, your brace wires may prevent you from getting down to the gums. Therefore, you may need a flossing threader. This is a special tool that your orthodontist or dentist should be able to provide for you. This tool helps you slide the floss through your teeth under the wires of your braces. If you have clear aligners or similar brace alternatives, simply remove the aligners and floss as normal.

Dental Floss Alternatives

There are 2 main alternatives to dental floss that dentists may recommend. These are floss picks and water picks. While there are other options on the market, most are not efficient enough, or can do more harm than good.
Floss picks are disposable plastic tools that string a small piece of dental floss between them. However, floss picks do not allow you to get all of the angles you could with traditional floss. They are very easy to use and better than not flossing.
Water picks use a thin stream of pressurized water to floss between teeth, and clean the gumline. Paired with an electric toothbrush, a water pick can be an efficient alternative to flossing.

A Center for Dental Excellence does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
A Center for Dental Excellence provides expert dental care to the Brooklyn and Staten Island communities we serve. To schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us or call the office you would like to visit. (718) 232-8289 for Brooklyn, and (718) 980-9555 for Staten Island.