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Walking down the dental care aisle at the local supermarket can be quite overwhelming with all the choices in toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouthwashes and floss. Each week there seems to be a new option on the shelf. Most of the options are pretty clear on toothbrushes and toothpaste, but I admit I am a bit perplexed when it comes to floss options.

To better understand the myriad of dental floss options, it is helpful to understand how important flossing is to your oral health. Floss is designed specifically to clean the tight spaces between the teeth and the gap between the base of the teeth and the gums. These are places that a toothbrush cannot reach. WebMD.com reports only 49 percent of Americans floss daily and 10 percent say they never floss at all.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 47.2 percent or 64.7 million American adults have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease (gum disease). In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent. The main preventative measure to stop periodontal disease is to brush and floss daily.

Now we have to decide what kind of floss to choose. There is waxed, with fluoride, flat, flavored and now there are disposable and reusable dental flossers. Much of the decision comes down to your personal preference. Some of us have tight teeth, so the standard floss can shred – the waxed or flat floss can be beneficial for this situation. Do be careful to floss around each tooth as the flat floss may not “grab” as much as a regular or twisted floss. Most flossers are flat or waxed, so you must take extra care to ensure that you’re flossing around each tooth.

Traditional flossing techniques can be tricky with a flosser and extremely fine floss can injure your gums. Kids and those with periodontal disease may want to consider using floss with fluoride, since it can help make teeth more resistant to decay. Those with crowns or a retainer bar may require a threader to get the floss between the teeth. Then there are new styles of picks and gum stimulators — the choices seem endless!

The most important thing you can do for your dental health is to brush and floss daily. If you’re in a hurry, use a flosser that day. If you have some extra time, try the twisted style floss to really clean around the gums. Set the example for your kids and encourage them to get in the daily habit when they’re young. See your dentist for regular exams and cleanings.

If you still have questions about flossing, call Smiles Dental today. We love to talk about flossing because there is so much benefit to your health!