The importance of flossing

Brushing teeth properly and consistently helps to remove most dental plaque, but brushing alone cannot remove plaque that is located in places that a toothbrush cannot reach -- particularly in between teeth. In addition to removing plaque, flossing also helps to:

Picture of young girl flossing her teeth

Flossing should be done at least once a day for two to three minutes each time to be most effective.

What type of floss is best?

Regardless of what type of dental floss you are most comfortable using, the oral health benefits remain the same> Regular, consistent flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque -- perhaps more important than the toothbrush. The different types of dental floss include:

Flossing methods for adults

Your dentist or other oral health care provider can provide a demonstration of any of the following flossing techniques. They include:

Picture of a young girl being instructed by her dentist on how to floss

Other flossing techniques

Flossing tools, such as a prethreaded flosser or floss holder, may be helpful for people who are just learning how to floss, individuals with limited dexterity in their arms and/or hands, or persons who are flossing the teeth of someone else (particularly a child or disabled person).

Oral irrigators are not considered a substitute for toothbrushing and flossing. These devices may be effective around orthodontic braces that retain food or in areas a toothbrush cannot reach. However, they do not remove plaque that contains harmful bacteria.

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