Why you should always brush and floss daily


It goes without saying that removing the food material on your teeth (dental plaque) is important for the health of your mouth. The American Dental Association recommends that you remove dental plaque on a daily basis. Removing dental plaque is important to reduce the occurrence of two of the most common oral diseases: cavities (dental caries) and gum disease (gingivitis).

Your dental health is dependent on your ability to develop strategies and interventions for home oral care to maximize disease prevention and optimize oral wellness. One of the general recommendations for home care that applies to all individuals involves the daily removal of dental plaque caught between your teeth (interdental). Removal of interdental plaque is never simple and often time consuming. Clinical evidence has shown there isn’t one “best” interdental cleaning method. It’s dependent on what the individual is able to effectively use to remove the plaque between the teeth.

What are common ways to remove plaque between teeth?

  1. Floss: a cord of thin filament that mechanically wipes plaque from the tooth surface. Dental flosses come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials.
  2. Wood sticks: usually made of soft wood in a triangular design that conforms with the curvature of the teeth to scrape plaque away. These devices come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. 
  3. Interdental brushes: a miniature instrument of plastic wrapped with nylon bristles, designed similar to a bottle brush, to fit between the teeth and scrub away plaque. These devices come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes.
  4. Oral irrigators: a hand-held device that directs a stream of water under pressure to dislodge and wash away plaque and bits of food. These devices have a variety of options for water dispersion.

Which option works the best? 

For some people, flossing works well to remove interdental plaque, but many people are more adept at using other oral devices that are as good as or better than floss. With the help of your dentist, you’ll be able to select the best device to remove that stubborn plaque.

Every day, remember to brush with a fluoride toothpaste. Include interdental cleaning with a device that works best for you. Eat a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks, and see your dentist on a regular basis for prevention and treatment of oral diseases.

Angelo Mariotti is chair of the Division of Periodontology at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry.

Subscribe. Get just the right amount of health and wellness in your inbox.