Do You Really Need to Floss Your Teeth?

If you already brush your teeth twice a day, do you really need to floss too? When you consider that almost half the surface area of your teeth is between them, in spaces hard to reach using a toothbrush, the importance of flossing becomes clear.

Dentists recommend flossing as part of a daily oral hygiene routine. Daily flossing helps to reduce plaque and lower your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, as well as preventing bad breath. If you haven't flossed before, or you're not sure if you're doing it properly, this short guide could help.

beautiful teeth

How many times do you need to floss?

While teeth brushing is generally recommended twice a day, dentists recommend that most people floss once per day, unless you need to improve your oral health. This can be in the morning or at night and should last for at least two minutes, cleaning every tooth in turn.

What is the correct way to floss?

There are several different types of floss, including electric water flossers and interdental brushes. You should talk to your dentist to find out more about each type and decide which one is right for you.

To use traditional dental floss, you should:

  1. Wind a 40 to 45 centimetre length of floss around the middle fingers of both hands and snap it off. Hold your hands apart with around 6cm of floss in-between.
  2. Starting at one side of your mouth, slowly guide the floss into the gap between two teeth.
  3. Clean the teeth using a gentle up and down motion on each side in turn.
  4. Unwind a new section of floss and move on to the next tooth.
  5. Repeat steps 2 to 5 until you've cleaned all of your teeth. If you use up all of the floss in your hands, you should tear off some more. Don't use the same length of floss again and again, as this can spread bacteria around your mouth.

Do kids need to floss?

Yes. Children's teeth should be flossed as soon as they have two teeth that touch. Flossing can be difficult for children to do themselves, so they may need help until around the age of 10. Looking for flavoured floss could help to make flossing more appealing to kids.

How do you floss with braces?

Flossing is very important if you have braces, as it cleans between the braces as well as the teeth. Getting the knack of flossing with braces can be difficult, and some people prefer to use interdental brushes or a water flosser rather than traditional floss.

Is it ever too late to start flossing?

No! If you've never flossed before, or it's been a long time, it will probably feel strange at first and your gums may even bleed as they won't be used to the action. However, flossing gently every day can soon become a habit and your gums should get used to it before long. If your gums still bleed, you should talk to your dentist for advice.

Find a dentist in St Heliers

If you want to know more about how to take great care of your teeth and gums, or it's time for your check-up, get in touch with our team at St Heliers Dental Centre. Call our Auckland dentists on (09) 575 5814 or make an appointment online.