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How often must I floss my teeth?

Rita Medwid
Dentist
For good oral health, it is best to floss your teeth once within a 24 hour period. This is approximately the time it takes for bacteria in your mouth to form a bacterial colony. The bacterial colony will attach itself to the tooth at the gum line. Then the bacteria continues to accumulate to form plaque or tartar. Flossing, exercises the gums, stimulating them, bringing motion and oxygen just like an aerobic exercise. The gums will be sore when you first start out and maybe bleed some, but within two weeks they should be in better shape. Medical studies have shown that flossing improves your overall health, and can prevent strokes, diabetic issues, and low-birth weight or pre-term babies. You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep!
Carol Jahn
Dentist
Everyone needs to clean between their teeth; optimally once daily. Tooth brushing is not enough. Between teeth is where most gum disease starts. While floss is generally the most recommended way to clean between teeth, it is the most challenging product to use. Fortunately there are many great, clinically proven options that work as well as string floss. These include floss holders, toothpicks, interdental brushes, and a water flosser.
For good oral hygiene, you should floss once daily. Tooth decay -- causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This helps remove the sticky film on teeth called plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line. 
Try to floss your teeth at least once each day. While brushing your teeth keeps the tooth clean and the gums healthy, using dental floss helps keep plaque off between the teeth. If you don't get rid of the plaque, it hardens and turns into tartar. Your dentist or dental hygienist will then have to scrape the tartar off the tooth to keep your mouth healthy. When you floss your teeth, be gentle. Use a movement similar to sawing as you clean between the teeth and get down to the gumline. Gently move between each tooth and the gum to avoid injuring the gum. Make sure you use clean dental floss each time you enter your mouth to do the next tooth. After flossing, you can rinse with a mouthwash or special rinse prescribed by your dentist.
Teeth should be flossed and brushed daily. The bacteria in dental plaque take 24 hours to reproduce and make more plaque. Brushing and flossing helps remove the plaque. If done at least once daily, the plaque can be controlled. If several days pass between flossing the plaque can get out of control leading to cavities and gingivitis.

It is best to floss once a day before going to bed. You don't want the food particles and plaque build-up from the day to stay all night long when it can cause the most damage. At night saliva flow decreases and cannot help protect your teeth as well.

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Flossing should be done once a day, says Dante Gonzales, DMD. In this video he says that it doesn't matter if you floss in the morning, night, before brushing or after -- as long as you're flossing once a day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.