Q&A – Flossing

The spaces between my teeth are too narrow to floss. Any suggestions?

Try a dental floss that is flat instead of round. This type of floss is generally made of a super-slippery material that glides easily between tight teeth.

What if it hurts when I floss?

Flossing isn’t supposed to hurt, so let your dentist know if it does. Pain could mean that you’re flossing too aggressively or incorrectly. But it could also be a sign of gum disease, which is all the more reason to keep on flossing. Floss is more important than brushing when it comes to preventing gum disease and tooth loss.1

Why does my dental floss shred?

If your floss is shredding, it could mean that you have a cavity hidden between your teeth or have dental work that is catching on the floss. Either way, be sure to consult your dentist, because both are problems that need to be fixed.

Do I need to floss even if I don’t see or feel any food in my teeth?

Yes. Food particles that get caught in the teeth may be too small to feel or even see. But flossing doesn’t just remove trapped food; it also helps clean plaque from between the teeth and the spaces where the gums meet the teeth.

Are there alternatives to traditional floss for people who have braces and other dental work?

Yes. Try something called a floss threader, which works similar to a needle and thread, allowing you to “thread” your floss through your dental work.


Sambunjak D, Nickerson JW, Poklepovic T, Johnson TM, Imai P, Tugwell P,Worthington HV. Flossing for the management of periodontal diseases and dental caries in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011 Issue 12. Art. No.CD008829.

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