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Flummoxed About Floss? Here Are Some Simple Facts

happy girl have fun with a tooth floss. tooth care. white smileFlossing is one of the most important aspects of dental hygiene, but only about half of American report that they floss regularly, and one in ten say they never floss at all. Flossing removes plaque in between teeth where brushing doesn’t reach, and it stops tartar buildup that can cause gingivitis, decay, and other problems.

But in their efforts to make flossing easier and more convenient, dental professionals have create so many flossing options that they’ve left many people more confused than ever. Here’s a refresher on floss facts that might make choosing the best floss for you easier—and perhaps encourage you and your family to floss more often.

• Floss daily. Missing a day once in a while isn’t a tragedy, but it doesn’t take long for tartar to start forming. Floss BOTH teeth, not just one as you move the floss through your mouth. And floss long enough—ten pulls back and forth for each tooth is a good rule of thumb.

• Put some muscle behind it. You need to put enough pressure on each tooth to create the friction necessary to remove plaque. Don’t put so much pressure that you’re straining, but enough so that you get the job done. If you’re using unwaxed floss and it squeaks, you’re doing it right.

• 3. Which brings us to the big area of confusion: which is the right floss for me? There are several kinds, and you may want to experiment to see which one feels best and seems to do the best job.

Unwaxed floss is the simplest kind. It’s designed to make a squeaking sound when the tooth is clean, but some people don’t like how it feels and how the strands break apart.

Waxed floss is designed to glide easier between your teeth and be less likely to break. But if you have tight tooth spacing the wax may make it harder to use.

Dental tape is wider than regular floss, and may be more effective for cleaning around teeth that aren’t tightly spaced.

Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE) is made from the same high-tech material as Gore-Tex® rain gear and is especially comfortable. It can also make cleaning between tightly spaced teeth easier.

Super-floss has stiffer ends that make it easier to thread through dental work, with a normal floss section in the middle.

Various devices: there are a number of electric devices that help people floss, along with gum stimulators, irrigators, and other gadgets for cleaning your teeth. These can be helpful in encouraging people to clean between teeth and though some are expensive, they can be very cost effective by preventing decay or gum disease. Consult with your dentist as to which may be the best choices for you, and to see how they might fit best into your other dental hygiene practices.

And if, for some reason, you can’t floss? You can go really low tech and simply use a toothpick to help clean between teeth until you have the opportunity to floss later.

Would You Like To Know More About Flossing? Use the “Ask the Expert” feature on our website. We’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

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