How often should you really floss?

In last week’s blog, we took the time to talk about all things flossing. This included what it is, how you should do it, and the history behind it. This week we wanted to keep on that note and go deeper into how often should you actually floss, and why. This blog uses research collected from around the world and really helps pinpoint the question of “how often should I floss?” To learn more about flossing check out our previous blog located here: or check out our website at

The history of flossing

Like any good book, we must talk about the beginning before getting to the good stuff. Flossing was invented way back in 1815 by a dentist out of New Orleans. This dentist offered his patients an extra little cleaning by using a thin strand of silk to clean in between their teeth.

Don’t worry though flossing has advanced drastically since he created it. In 1882  a company called the Codman and Shurtleff Company began marketing an unwaxed silk dental floss that revolutionized the market and got people starting to use the product. This was followed in 1896 by the first dental floss from Johnson & Johnson. The New Jersey-based J&J took out a patent for dental floss in 1898 that was made from the same silk material used by doctors for silk stitches. This turned flossing into a worldwide practice and has turned flossing into a staple of oral hygiene. 

From there on the flossing industry has been revolutionized time and time again in many different forms including floss picks, water flossers, and braces flossing. Unfortunately though with every product revolution, the same question always pops into people’s heads. “How often should I floss?”

How often should one really floss?

Experts state that the average person should floss once a day (if not more often). according to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). The CDA recommends flossing at least once per day to remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris and help prevent cavities and gum disease. The American Dental Association agrees and recommends adults clean between their teeth daily with an interdental cleaner (like floss). Cleaning between your teeth may help prevent cavities and gum disease. Cleaning between your teeth helps remove a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that feed on leftover food or sugar in your mouth. When that happens, it releases an acid that can eat away at the outer shell of your teeth and cause cavities.

When should I floss?

The most important thing about flossing is cleaning in between your teeth. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when. Pick a time of day when you can dedicate an extra couple of moments to your dental health. Personally, our team recommends doing it at the same time every day (either right before bed, or right when you wake up). People who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from cleaning between their teeth first thing in the morning or after lunch. Others may like to go to sleep with a clean mouth. The preference is up to you.

One big thing that many people forget, children need to floss their teeth as well! Start flossing with your children as soon as your child has two teeth that touch. This will most likely mean you will have to floss your child’s teeth as it can be complicated, but will pay off in the long run by them getting fewer cavities. 

A note: Flossing should not be painful or hurt in any way. If you do it too hard, you could damage the tissue between your teeth. If you’re too gentle, you might not be getting the food out. It’s normal to feel some discomfort when you first start but keep going. With daily brushing and flossing, that discomfort should ease within a week or two. If your pain persists, give us a call at Woodland Family Dental and we can give it a look. 

How to floss: 

Flossing can get complicated and it’s usually something that many just wing when first attempting. Below is a great graph on how to floss from the ADA.

Step 1: Break off about 16-18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.

Step 2: Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.

Step 3: Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums. 

Step 4: Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.

Step 5: Repeat this motion for your entire mouth

Note: When buying floss look for products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

Woodland Family Dental is one of Duluth, Minnesota’s top family dentists with over 50 five-star reviews on Google. Our team of dentists offers a wide array of dental services including general cleanings, cosmetic dentistry, implants, and more. Woodland Family Dental is here to help you with your dental needs. Not to mention our great location on Miller Trunk Hwy in Duluth Woodland Family Dental is close to the business center of Duluth. Set up an appointment today to see why our customers love us. Also don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date

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