We all know that brushing and flossing are the most important ways to protect your teeth.
You should brush at least twice a day. Many people also brush shortly after meals. But flossing can be a little more challenging and time-consuming. It’s fair to ask: How often should you floss?
The Ideal Answer: Once a Day
Flossing is valuable because it eliminates foodstuffs from those hard-to-reach places between your teeth. Bacteria use morsels of food like this as fuel to attack and damage enamel. This also causes irritation of the gums that can develop into gingivitis or full-blown gum disease.
The best protection is provided by flossing once a day before bed. This way, food you ate at dinner won’t break down overnight while you sleep. It’s not necessary to floss after every meal.
The “Practical” Answer: Three Times a Week
If you find flossing a chore, you’re not alone. Many people report that it takes some getting used to, but it gets easier over time. Flossing three times a week is far better than not flossing at all!
There Are Ways to Make Flossing Easier
There are many reasons you might have trouble flossing. Some people with orthodontic issues find it tough to floss between teeth that overlap or are very close together. On the other hand, age or manual dexterity issues can make flossing harder.
Aside from traditional floss, there are a few other options for cleaning between teeth:
1. Floss Picks
Floss picks provide you with a small length of floss that comes stretched between the points on a plastic handle. Instead of holding the ends of a string of floss between your thumbs, you can hold this pick between thumb and forefinger. Most people find this much easier.
2. Soft Interdental Picks
Interdental cleaners are designed to slide between teeth and may be more effective than regular floss at disrupting dental plaque on these surfaces. They are held by a plastic tip and inserted gently between teeth. As a result, they work best for people with larger spaces between teeth.
3. Fluoride Mouthwash
While mouthwash is not an alternative to flossing, it can be a good adjunct if you don’t floss every day. Mouthwash can penetrate spaces between teeth, and washes with added flouride may strengthen tooth surfaces that are hard to clean with a toothbrush alone.