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Cleaning between your teeth is important to remove bacteria that your toothbrush can’t reach. The only way to do this effectively is by using dental floss. Brushing your teeth or using mouthwash can’t remove the bacteria that accumulate between your teeth.

It doesn’t matter whether you floss before or after brushing, as long as you floss at least once a day. If you leave plaque on your teeth for more than 24 hours, it can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque can also harden on your teeth and turn into tartar, which is difficult or impossible to remove without professional help. After flossing, rinsing your mouth can help remove any leftover food particles.

It’s important to use the right technique when flossing. Don’t saw back and forth between your teeth, as this can cause cuts in your gums. Instead, wrap the floss around your tooth and move it up and down to remove plaque. Be sure to floss between all your teeth, including the back surfaces of your back teeth.

Floss threaders

A floss threader is a plastic tool that helps you get floss into hard-to-reach places like under braces, fixed bridges, or dentures. Without a floss threader, it would be hard to get the floss into those areas. You can insert the floss into the threader, and then easily clean under braces, bridges, or dentures. This helps to prevent tooth decay, gum problems, and bone loss.

There is also a special type of floss that has rigid sections approximately every 18 inches. You can cut the floss in one of the rigid sections and insert the rigid end under orthodontic wires, bridges, or dentures and gently cleaning the surfaces.

Using a floss threader at least once a day, along with regular brushing and using an interdental brush, can help keep your mouth healthy and make your dental work last longer.

Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on June 8, 2023.