A lot of people wonder if flossing is even necessary, especially if you can’t see any food stuck in between your teeth.
“While the research on the connection between using floss and cavities is hazy, the research on flossing’s role in preventing gum disease is much clearer,” says Leena Palomo DDS, an associate professor of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “That’s why dentists, hygienists, and periodontists continue to recommend flossing.
One review of 12 studies found that people who brushed and flossed regularly were less likely to have bleeding gums. They had lower levels of gum inflammation (called gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease), too.
“Food that’s left between teeth causes gum inflammation and tooth decay. Flossing is the only way to remove it. A toothbrush just can’t get between teeth,” says dentistry professor Sivan Finkel, DMD, of New York University College of Dentistry.
“Everyone should floss at least once a day,” says Timothy Chase, DMD, a New York-based cosmetic dentist and practicing partner of SmilesNY. “If you don’t, you leave food particles between the teeth and under the gums that can cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.”
What to Do If You Can’t Stand Flossing
If you hate using floss, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to make it easier and even enjoyable.
- Purchase good quality floss that doesn’t fray.
- Pick a flavor that you love and look forward to using. There’s cinnamon, tea tree, and even bubble gum.
- Commit to flossing just one tooth per day (yes, only one!) to trick yourself into making it a habit.
- Try waxed floss, which glides much better between the teeth and doesn’t get stuck.
- Use a flossing stick. I use the Reach Flosser, which I like better than other flossing sticks since this one has a long handle like a toothbrush, which makes it even easier to use.