How Often Should You Be Flossing?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Flossing is an essential part of any good oral care routine, since it’ll help you remove plaque and get rid of bacteria and food debris from between your teeth. But how often should you floss?

Dentists recommend flossing at least once a day, preferably before or after brushing. Flossing more than twice a day can damage your gums or cause bleeding. If you find it difficult to use a regular floss, other options such as a Waterpik, dental tape, and floss picks are also effective. 

Let’s explore the benefits of flossing daily and how often you should floss. We’ll also review the downsides of flossing too much and what types of floss you can use to maintain proper oral hygiene. 

How Frequently Should You Floss?

Woman flossing teeth

Flossing at least once a day is extremely important because it removes plaque from between your teeth in places where toothbrushes don’t reach. Flossing also clears away bacteria and food debris, which helps prevent gum diseases and cavities.

You can floss anytime during the day, but it’s best to floss before or after brushing your teeth. According to dentists, the best time for flossing is either in the morning or before going to bed.

Some dentists encourage their patients to floss before brushing, but if you prefer it the other way around, that’s fine too. What’s important is that you clean your mouth thoroughly. 

How Much Is Too Much? 

An excess of almost anything can be harmful, and flossing is no exception. Flossing more than two times a day can pose a risk to your teeth and gums.

If you have sensitive gums, flossing more than once or twice per day may cause excessive bleeding. Ideally, try to floss once a day.

In the beginning, your gums might bleed, but once you develop a routine the bleeding should stop. 

Flossing incorrectly by applying too much pressure is just as bad as flossing too often. If you floss too intensely, your gums may bleed.

To floss without hurting your gums, slide the floss gently between the spaces in your teeth. If you have sensitive gums, floss at a slower pace and don’t push too hard against the gums. 

When you get the hang of it, you can move from flossing once a day to twice but don’t floss more than that. 

Which Type of Floss Is Best? 

If you haven’t already developed a habit of flossing, you might find it difficult to use regular floss. If that’s the case, there’ no need to worry; several alternatives are available. 

If you just don’t like the feel of the traditional floss, you can try waxed floss (on Amazon), which is comfortable to carry and easily slips between your teeth.

Other flossing alternatives include:

If you’re not sure which option suits you, you can always ask your dentist for recommendations. 

Floss vs WaterPik: Which Is Better?

Close up teeth cleaning using dental floss

When choosing the best floss for your oral care routine, you can use regular floss (or something similar, like floss picks) or a Waterpik. Both of these options are effective, but what’s the difference between a Waterpik and regular floss, and which is better? 

Regular floss has a long string shape and comes in different textures and flavors. You can buy regular floss from any drug store or online.

A Waterpik is a water flosser that uses a stream of pressurized water for deep cleaning of your mouth. A Waterpik is the best option if you wear braces or crowns or if you have a permanent retainer or a dental implant since you may find it difficult to clean with a string.  

Which Floss Should You Use? 

The main advantage of a Waterpik is that it’s easy to use. All you have to do is direct the tip along your gum line and between your teeth. It’s also very helpful to clean hard-to-reach areas of the mouth and gives you fresher breath.

Unfortunately, however, a Waterpik can be costly when compared to a regular floss. Also, a stream of water from the Waterpik can make cleaning your mouth a bit messy, which some may find annoying. 

Regular floss or floss picks, on the other hand, is a great way to clean your teeth and gum line thoroughly and helps remove plaque from areas that a Waterpik may not be able to reach as well. 

That said, you may find flossing a bit of a chore, especially as get used to the proper flossing technique. Your gums may also bleed if you floss forcefully.

At the end of the day, it’s best to choose the option that you’re comfortable with and like. Remember, the important thing is to develop a habit of flossing, so the type of floss you use doesn’t really matter. What’s more important is that you’re consistent with this very healthy habit.

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