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Flossing 411: Tips from the American Dental Association

In a study conducted by the American Dental Association in 2008, 10% of the respondents said that they never floss their teeth. Though many people find a number of excuses for not flossing teeth, including not knowing how to properly floss and not having enough time to floss, flossing is an essential part of a quality dental hygiene routine. To best help you with creating a consistent flossing routine, we have provided a few frequently asked questions and answers about the importance of flossing.

What does dental floss do for my teeth?

Since your toothbrush bristles can’t easily clean between the tight spaces of your teeth, using dental floss helps to clean these surface areas of the teeth and reduce your chances of tooth decay or gum disease.

How often should I use dental floss?

The American Dental Association recommends that all individuals floss two times a day. Flossing at least once a day will help to maintain optimal oral health.

Should I brush or floss my teeth first?

An advantage of flossing before you brush your teeth is that the fluoride from the toothpaste will have a better chance to reach between the teeth. Though, as long as you floss and brush your teeth thoroughly, you can go in whichever order you choose.

How do I floss?

We’ve located a “how to floss” instruction guide created by the American Dental Association here: A few tips from the “how to floss” guide:

  1. Use 18 inches of floss wound around your middle fingers

  2. Hold the floss between the thumb and forefingers of each hand

  3. Place the floss in between two teeth, curving it into a “C” shape against the side of the teeth

  4. Rub the floss gently up and down the tooth (be careful not to jerk or snap the floss)

  5. Floss in between all of your teeth and behind your molars

What is the best kind of floss to use?

Floss is made from nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments. When selecting which floss to use, you can select floss products with mint or other flavors and it can be wax or unwaxed floss. There is no significant difference between waxed or unwaxed or even flavored flosses. As long as you floss thoroughly one to two times daily, your floss of choice to make the process more pleasant is recommended.

At Shane McDowell Dentistry we are here to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have with your oral health. Please call 239-936-0597 or visit to schedule an appointment with our experienced and friendly staff today.

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