The Importance of Flossing

Flossing your teeth keeps food from building up between your teeth and keeps your gums healthy. Whether you use a Waterpik or traditional dental floss, floss at night or in the morning, the important thing is that you floss your teeth every day.

What are the benefits of flossing our teeth?

Dr. John Vitale: The major benefit of flossing our teeth is when we floss, we remove particles that get stuck between our teeth at the contact points. So, therefore, instead of walking around with little particles of food stuck between your teeth, you’re able to remove them with the floss. And the second advantage, and a big advantage, is when you floss, you sort of massage your gingival tissue or your gum tissue, and that helps keep your tissue healthy, pink and prevent bleeding and periodontal disease.

What are some of the harmful effects of not flossing?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, I’ve seen over the years that a lot of people who do not floss have a higher caries index. So, they have more cavities in their mouth, more decay, and that generally is a result of keeping particles and things between your teeth and not having the ability to get them out.

How often should we be flossing our teeth, and are we supposed to floss before or after brushing our teeth?

Dr. John Vitale: I guess, for different people, different strokes for different folks. When I floss my teeth, I generally floss in the evening. Some people floss after each meal, which is commendable, if you have the ability to do that.

I think you should floss before you brush your teeth, get all those particles out, get your mouth pretty much clean and then go over everything with a toothbrush and toothpaste. And that would help keep your mouth really nice and clean.

Can you please describe the different types of dental floss available today, and which type do you think is the most effective?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, there’re all different types. And again, for different people, they would require different types of floss. If you have a real tight contact between your teeth, very difficult to get something through your teeth, then there are waxed flosses on the market. Those are strings that have wax on them, so it helps you slide your piece of floss through your contact area a little easier. Then we have a wider type of tape floss, and that’s for people with long contact areas. So, you can go along the entire surface of the tooth with this wider piece of cloth, for lack of a better term, and clean your teeth. And then we have the regular rope floss, which is round and does not have any wax on it, and may be flavored or not flavored.

So, depending on the individual and depending on their dexterity and how easy it is for them to use a particular floss, all these different brands and types are available to you. It’s like you try one out and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, you try a different one, and usually people find one that they’re very, very comfortable with.

Is using a Waterpik considered flossing. How does a Waterpik work?

Dr. John Vitale: I consider a Waterpik a type of flossing, and my personal preference is for a Waterpik over flossing, to be quite frank with you. A Waterpik works by shooting a stream of water under pressure, a very thin stream, and it comes out of a tube with a handle on the end with a point.

You place this point between your teeth at the gum tissue, and a heavy stream of water under pressure shoots between your gum tissue and your teeth. It keeps your mouth nice and clean. It cleans the surfaces of your teeth, and it really does a better job than flossing when it comes to massaging your gingival tissue or your gum tissue at the gumline around your teeth. I’m a big advocate of using a Waterpik, and I recommend it to all my patients.

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