Dental care and oral health information you need
from the Academy of General Dentistry

Sunday, July 14, 2024
Know Your Teeth Academy of General Dentistry Know Your Teeth


Quick Reference

Learn what those dental words mean.

Check out how your teeth and mouth change in every stage of life.



Get dental news feeds delivered directly to your desktop! more...

Using Floss Once a Day Helps Fight Decay


Using Floss Once a Day Helps Fight Decay


Some people loop. Some people spool. Others simply refuse. The verdict is in: Flossing is one of the best things you can ever do to take care of your teeth.


"Flossing every 24 hours to break up plaque is imperative for good oral health," says Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) spokesperson Gordon Isbell, DMD, MAGD.


An article in the October 2005 issue of AGD Impact, AGD's monthly newsmagazine, describes how floss is the single most important factor in preventing periodontal (gum) disease, which affects more than 50 percent of adults.


Flossing, which is just as important as brushing, helps removes the plaque and debris that stick to teeth and gums between the teeth. It also helps polish the tooth's surface and control bad breath.


Dental floss can be waxed or unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. All floss helps clean and remove plaque. Wider floss, also known as dental tape, may help people with a lot of bridge work and is usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide. Waxed floss can be easier to slide between teeth with very little space between. Unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound, which lets the user know their teeth are clean.


Electric flossers are now on the scene, but most dentists contend there is no substitute for manually flossing one's teeth.


"Electric flossing is no substitute, but if someone has a disability and can't manually floss, it is better than nothing," says Dr. Isbell.


Similarly, dentists say that waterpicks should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing because they don't remove plaque. Dentists do recommend waterpicks for people with braces or dentures or those with gum disease who have trouble flossing because of pain.


Benefits of flossing:


  • Decreased risk of gum disease
  • Better breath
  • Removes plaque between teeth
  • Polishes tooth surfaces

Updated: February 2007