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Questions and Answers: Flossing Tips

Q. Why is flossing important?

A. With good oral health, you can keep your teeth and gums strong and your body healthy. Brushing removes plaque from a tooth’s surface. But brushing by itself is not enough to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay. Flossing at least once a day helps clean plaque from hard-to-reach places between teeth and under the gum line. Flossing lowers the risk of cavities and is essential in preventing gum disease.

Q. How should I floss?

A. According to the American Dental Association, daily flossing is easy when you follow these steps:

  1. Pull out about 18 inches of floss, and wind most of it around the middle finger on one hand. Wind the remaining floss on the same finger of the other hand so you have just a few inches between your fingers.

  2. Hold the floss between your thumbs and forefingers, and gently run it back and forth between each tooth.

  3. Curve the floss along the gum line of each tooth, and slide it up and down.

Q. Does it matter if I brush or floss first?

A. Not really. However, if you floss first, then that will allow the fluoride from your toothpaste to work a little bit more between your teeth.

“ADA Seal of Acceptance: Floss and Other Interdental Cleaners.” American Dental Association, March 14, 2005. www.ada.org/1318.aspx Accessed 2013.

“Flossing.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing.aspx Accessed 2013.

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