Flossing is an essential part of any oral health care routine. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to achieve optimal oral health. By flossing daily, you help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brusing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent gum disease and cavities.
When is the best time to floss? Before I brush or after?
The most important thing about flossing is to do it. Pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care. People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from flossing first thing in the morning or flossing after lunch.
And don’t forget, children need to floss too! You should be flossing your child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two teeth that touch. Because flossing demands more manual dexterity than very young children have, children are not usually able to floss well by themselves until they are age 10 or 11.
Keep in mind that flossing should not be painful. You may feel discomfort when you first start flossing, but don’t give up. With daily brushing and flossing, that discomfort should ease within a week or two. If your pain persists, talk to your dentist.
If you find flossing difficult, consider a different flossing method. People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner such as a wooden plaque remover, dental pick or pre-threaded flosser. Ask your dentist how to use them properly to avoid injuring your gums. It could be that you simply need to try another type of dental floss—waxed, unwaxed, thick or comfort floss. Stick with it and you’ll have adopted a healthy habit for life.
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