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Do You Really Need to Floss?

By Kate Gardner

Taking care of our teeth is something we all know we need to do, but often becomes an afterthought in our busy lives. However, good oral hygiene has whole-body benefits and is an important part of keeping our hearts healthy. Read on to learn about the benefits of the mouth-cleaning trifecta: brushing, flossing, and mouthwash.


Teeth brushing is the backbone of oral care, though some of us may not be making enough time for it. A survey conducted by Delta Dental shows that while all respondents did report brushing their teeth, only 70 percent reported brushing twice a day and even fewer said they brushed long enough. 

Current dental guidelines recommend that we each brush our teeth twice per day, once in the morning (after breakfast) and once at night before bed. Each of these tooth-brushing sessions should last at least 2 minutes. Dentists who spoke with WebMD say you should use a toothbrush with soft bristles (replaced about every three months), don't brush too hard, and make sure you brush along the gum line. 


Who has time to floss, am I right? It turns out that a lot of us feel that way. Delta Dental's survey showed that only 41 percent of people floss every day and 20 percent never floss. But flossing only takes a few moments and, when done right, it can be as important as brushing your teeth. 

Lately, there has been some controversy as to the benefits of flossing. The National Institutes of Health point out in their monthly newsletter that some population-based studies (studies that ask people about their dental habits and health) suggest there is no benefit to this type of tooth cleaning, but they push back against the idea that this proves flossing is useless.  Dentists are always able to tell the difference between patients who floss versus those who don't because their gums are typically healthier. Also, small controlled studies have shown flossing to be effective. 


If you're tired or in a rush, you may be tempted to swish with some mouthwash and consider your mouth clean, but the American Dental Association says that mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing and flossing. Mouthwash can help, though. Like flossing, it can reach places that your toothbrush can't, it can (at least temporarily) make your breath smell better, and medicated versions are helpful in treating gum disease. 

Now you're ready to face the world, armed with knowledge, clean teeth, and fresh breath!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Upland, Calif. 

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