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Is Flossing Really That Important?

Not everyone asks this question out loud, but we know you are all thinking it.  We know you dread the question, “Are you flossing regularly?” by your dentist or dental hygienist.  Some answer us sheepishly; some answer quite defensively.  Others roll their eyes when we are not looking.

Our goal is never to make you feel guilty.  We simply want to guide you into making the healthiest choices for your oral health.

The Short Answer


Flossing really is that important.  In fact, if the Designer Smiles team was stranded on a deserted island and given the choice of either a toothbrush or floss (not both), each one of us would choose floss!

The Long Answer

Did you know that a toothbrush misses about 35% of your exposed tooth surfaces?  Toothbrushes do a great job of reaching the cheek sides, tongue sides, and biting surfaces of each tooth.  When used properly, a toothbrush will completely remove plaque from these areas.

However, no matter how well you use a toothbrush, it can never extend into the areas between the teeth.  Even the fanciest bristles on the most sophisticated electric toothbrush cannot reach the junction where two teeth meet.

A Waterpik or other type of high-pressure water flosser will remove plaque and food debris from the open area between the teeth.  It is not capable of going through areas where teeth touch each other tightly.  Only floss physically cleans the space where two teeth touch.

The Wrong Way to Floss

Did you know that there is a right way to floss and a wrong way to floss?  Once you have gotten over the hump of actually flossing on a daily basis, we want you to do it correctly.

Quickly snapping the floss up and down between each tooth is better than not flossing at all.  But it’s not quite the right technique for removing all of the plaque on your teeth.

Flossing with hard forces can actually do some damage to the underlying gum tissue, so it is important to use gentle pressure.

Only flossing a few teeth here and there also will not cut it.  You may have heard the dorky dental saying, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.”  It is dorky, but it is true.

The Right Way to Floss

The purpose of flossing is to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.  Plaque sticks to the tooth surface, so the floss must wrap around the tooth and touch the area where toothbrush bristles cannot reach.

We refer to this as C-shaped flossing.  Once you insert the floss between your teeth, you must take both ends and wrap to the front, moving the floss in an up-and-down motion from the gums to the area of contact.  Then take both ends of the floss and pull each end toward the back of your mouth, repeating the up-and-down motion.  The goal is to clean the sides of the teeth.

Why Should You Floss?

There are many important reasons to floss!  Not only does it remove food that is stuck between the teeth; it provides these great benefits!

Longer Lifespan

Scientific research studies claim flossing increases a person’s lifespan by over 6 years!  This improvement in length of life is likely due to the link between oral health and overall health.  Flossing = Lower risk of dental disease = Lower risk of heart disease.

Lower Risk of Dental Disease – Because flossing removes plaque from the teeth, it reduces the risk of dental disease caused by the bacteria that live in plaque buildup.  This means less cavities and gum disease.  By lowering the risk for cavities and gum disease, you will spend less time and money at the dentist.

Improves Bad Breath – The top two causes of bad breath are bacteria and food debris hidden in the mouth.  Where do you think those bacteria and food particles love to hide?  You guessed it!  Between the teeth.  By cleaning between the teeth, you are removing the top two causes of bad breath!

Beautiful, Pink Gums – As we discussed in a prior blog, healthy, pink gums are essential to a beautiful smile.  Gums that are swollen, red and bleeding are unsightly and take away from what could be a pretty smile.  Flossing is an important tool in preventing gingivitis.  To keep your gums beautiful and pink, floss every night before bed!

Yes, We Can Tell!

Because of the huge difference flossing makes in the health of your mouth, we can tell whether you are a regular flosser or just crammed in a few days before your teeth cleaning.  No judgment here!  We just want you to have a completely healthy mouth.  That is only possible with daily flossing.

More Questions About Flossing?

Call today to schedule a visit with Nancy and Phyllis, our two wonderful dental hygienists.  They are the flossing experts.  They will instruct you in the best way to floss your teeth and keep your teeth and gums healthier than ever before.