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“I don’t get food stuck in between my teeth” is just one of the excuses dentists often hear at dental cleanings. However, flossing rids your pearly whites of plaque-causing bacteria, which your toothbrush just can’t do. Flossing removes bacteria and plaque, not just food particles. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) Flossing is your #1 plaque-fighting weapon in the battle for optimal oral health.

When did flossing become a thing? It all began with a dentist in New Orleans who advised his patients to use a thin silk thread to clean between their teeth. As this became popular, the Codman and Shurtleft Company in Massachusetts began marketing unwaxed silk dental floss in 1882. New Jersey-based company Johnson & Johnson took out a patent for dental floss in 1898, that was made from the silk material used by doctors for silk stitches.

If you brush your teeth but skip the flossing part, it is like washing 70% of your body. So what kind of floss should you use? Any flossing tool removes bacteria and food particles from your teeth, so essentially they all work one way or another. This means that you can choose one based on personal preference.

Types of floss:

Wide floss—also called dental tape, this type of floss is good for people who have bridgework or who have wider spaces than normal between teeth.

Waxed floss—this type of floss is sturdy and comes in flavors and unflavored. It slides easily between teeth that are tightly spaced. It is popular with people who wear braces.

Unwaxed floss—this floss squeaks when rubbed against teeth so you know that the plaque (sticky film) has been successfully rubbed off.

Flossing sticks— these are for those who can’t maneuver floss properly between their fingers–children, people with arthritis or other disability. Also, flossing sticks can be used with one hand. In addition to flossing sticks, you can use small round brushes, pointed rubber tips and interdental cleaners which are wooden or plastic picks.

When should you floss? When you floss doesn’t matter–whether before or after brushing your teeth, before bed, when you wake up, or in the middle of the day right after lunch–what matters is that you do take the time to floss. In fact, not flossing leads to bleeding gums.

It’s time to stop the excuses, there really isn’t a good reason to skip this essential part of your daily oral hygiene routine. With all the options available, you can find something that will work for you. For more information, see Dr. LeJeune or give our team a call at (757) 827-9114.