Don’t Forget to Floss

May 26, 2010

Dental experts overwhelmingly agree that daily flossing is a critical, preventive step in reducing tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing removes plaque between teeth and below the gum line — dislodging the pieces of food trapped between teeth which otherwise cannot be brushed or rinsed away.

Plaque build up causes gum disease (gingivitis) which affects some two- thirds of the U.S. population, while advanced-stage gum disease (periodontal disease) is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults and affects between ten and fifteen percent of the U.S. population.

To receive maximum benefits from flossing, use the following proper technique:

  • Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
  • Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth
  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
  • Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
  • To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth

(Photos courtesy of

When you are flossing, you are doing a great service to your mouth. You can easily remove food that is stuck in between your teeth, not only saving you from potential embarrassment if people see it, but also to help prevent bacteria from collecting up against the gum line and causing gum problems. Flossing may even help prevent bad breath. In addition, having food stuck in between your teeth is quite irritating and sometimes painful, so flossing can help your mouth feel comfortable.

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