Is Flossing Really Necessary? How To Improve The Habit

Posted on: 19 February 2021

If you have a low-sugar diet, visit your dentist regularly, and brush your teeth well, you may wonder if it's really worth it to floss. Take a look at why flossing is so important and how to improve this habit.

Why is Flossing Important?

Because there are not a lot of studies on the effects of flossing, some people think it's a waste of time. However, the CDC and the American Dental Association recommend flossing. In fact, one study did find that older individuals who flossed were less likely to lose teeth or develop caries (cavities) and periodontal disease over a five year period. Toothbrushes cannot reach the spaces between your teeth, and so flossing is important to remove food particles that could attract plaque-forming bacteria.

Couldn't You Just Replace Flossing with a Water Pick?

Some people may wonder if a water pick can replace flossing since it provides some interproximal cleaning. While water picks can be beneficial for removing plaque below the gum line—especially if you are prone to gingivitis or gum disease—they aren't a substitute for flossing.

How Can You Improve the Habit?

If you aren't flossing simply because you are forgetting, keep a post-it note in your bathroom or set a timer on your phone to help you remember. If you are struggling to floss every day, try to floss at least a few times a week instead. One study found that even flossing a couple a times a week could be very beneficial at reducing the risk of periodontitis and plaque accumulation.

Another way to improve the habit is by picking up floss picks. These types of products have a small amount of floss threaded on a plastic handle so that it's easier to reach premolars and molars.

If you find that flossing is difficult because you are going through orthodontic treatment, like braces, ask your dentist about a floss threader. These tools make it easier to weave the floss in and out of the oral appliance.

As you floss more regularly, your gums should toughen up so you shouldn't experience bleeding and/or discomfort that may initially dissuade you from the habit. If your gums are still hurting, ask your dentist to show you proper flossing technique. Some people "saw" the floss back in forth instead of hugging the thread towards the tooth base in a C-shape.

Reach out to a dentist today for more help.