Dental Hygiene Association

Healthy Teeth, Healthy Life

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Answering Your Questions About Flossing


Teeth cleaning kits

Did you know that gum disease affects more than 75% of people in the United States? As many as 64.7 million American adults suffer from mild, moderate, or severe periodontitis, which is an advanced form of periodontal disease.

Tooth decay is an epidemic among the U.S. population. Fortunately, there are several things you can do at home to protect yourself from poor oral hygiene conditions. One such solution is regular flossing or interdental cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions About Interdental Cleaning

  1. What does floss do?
    Floss removes food trapped in between the teeth before the bacteria has a chance to harden and become plaque. Plaque eventually becomes tartar, which is a hard mineral deposit that forms on teeth and causes gum disease. Flossing is essential to dental care because toothbrush bristles cannot effectively reach and clean those tight spaces.
  2. What is floss made out of?
    Floss is usually made from nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments and is sometimes treated with flavoring agents to make the task of interdental cleaning more pleasant.
  3. What is the difference between waxed and unwaxed dental floss?
    Both waxed and unwaxed floss are equally effective in removing the debris that gets stuck between your teeth.
  4. What are some other types of interdental cleaning tools?
    Other tools that are often used to clean between the teeth include small brushes, water flossers, and dental floss picks.
  5. What criteria must an interdental cleaner meet in order to earn the ADA Seal of Acceptance?
    To qualify for the ADA seal, a dental care company must prove that:

    • Using the flossing tool in addition to brushing is more effective than brushing alone.
    • The product is safe for oral use.
    • Unsupervised use of the tool by the average person will not cause harm to oral tissues.
  6. When is the best time to use floss?
    The ADA recommends that an individual brushes his or her teeth twice a day and cleans with floss once a day. Some people prefer to perform interdental cleaning before bedtime.

Good oral hygiene practices such as flossing should start early. The ADA recommends flossing your child’s teeth as soon as he or she develops two neighboring teeth that touch. The truth is, brushing only cleans about 70% of your teeth. Flossing covers the remaining 30%.

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