The New York Times “Ask Well” section discussed the order of brushing and flossing. Some dentists recommend flossing first because it is less enjoyable and more likely to be skipped. However, if you brush first, floss can guide the fluoride in toothpaste between your teeth. Flossing is important because it removes debris the brush bristles cannot reach- between teeth and under gums. Removing the debris prevents inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Patients who floss have less gum bleeding on brushing and flossing. As for technique, the American Dental Association recommends guiding the floss along the curve of the gum line at the base of each tooth and up and down between teeth.
Flossing isn’t the only tool for cleaning the spaces between teeth. For patients who have large spaces between teeth or prefer an aid that is more stable, Stimu-dents are an excellent and safe alternative to floss.