When it comes to maintaining oral health habits, flossing usually takes a back seat. While it is an addition to brushing – as in both cleaning methods are complementary – it is not exactly optional. Most dentists would recommend that you floss daily in addition to brushing twice daily.

Why should I floss?

Your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth to remove plaque (a sticky film that contains bacteria). Flossing gets between your teeth to clean away the plaque.

By flossing and brushing your teeth, you’re removing plaque and the bacteria in it that feeds on sugar and particles of food that remain in your mouth after eating.

When the bacteria feed, they release an acid that can eat away your enamel (the hard outer shell of your teeth) and cause cavities. Also, plaque that isn’t cleaned properly can eventually harden into calculus (tartar)that can collect around your gum line and lead to gingivitis and gum disease.

Food debris trapped in between teeth and in the gum line may contain bacteria that cause an unpleasant odour. Daily flossing can help to remove the smelly odor from your mouth while keeping your breath fresh and teeth free from unsightly food particles.

When is the best time to floss?

 The best time to floss is the time that comfortably fits into your schedule.

While some people like to include flossing as part of their morning ritual and start the day with a clean mouth, others prefer flossing before bedtime so they go to bed with a clean mouth.

What should I do first - brushing or flossing?

It doesn’t matter if you brush or floss first, as long as you do a thorough job cleaning all of your teeth and practice good oral hygiene habits every day. Though a study suggested that it’s better to floss first and then brush. The study indicated that flossing first loosened bacteria and debris from between teeth, and brushing afterward cleaned these particles away.

Can too much flossing be harmful?

No, you can’t floss too much unless you’re flossing incorrectly. If you apply too much pressure when you floss, or if you floss too vigorously, you may damage your teeth and gums.

You may need to floss more than once a day, especially after meals, to clean out food or debris that is stuck between your teeth.