Whenever you mention flossing, you’re sure to get a variety of reactions. Some dentists think flossing is pointless, and because patients don’t know how to do it correctly, they’re damaging their teeth and gums. Other dentists acknowledge that flossing can seem unimportant to their patients, but they want to make sure their patients understand why it matters. Let’s start with the basics.

Flossing is the simple act of using dental wax between each of your teeth. The idea is that by doing this, you’re reducing plaque that could build up to become something worse. It also helps with preventing gum disease, because while you may brush thoroughly, there are still places you can’t reach with a toothbrush. In addition, if you’re a fan of popcorn or sticky things, flossing helps get those pieces out of your teeth before they can cause any lasting damage. Last but not least, your breath will smell better!

If your dentist recommends flossing, they will likely tell you to do it after you eat, but before you brush your teeth. This is because brushing your teeth can’t get rid of food that might have gotten trapped between your teeth — but flossing can’t give you the white color you’d probably like for your teeth. It should be done in combination with brushing your teeth and using mouthwash, as part of a larger oral hygiene health plan.

Some dentists might joke and tell you that your gums are bleeding because you don’t floss enough! Still, this is sadly true — if you’re not used to it, your gums will naturally be more sensitive, and you do need to take the time to follow up on your dentist’s wisdom. In order to have the nicest smile you can, you have to be willing to commit.

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