Every time you visit the dentist, she probably lectures you on flossing. According to one study by dental hygienist Christina Chapman, only about 5 percent of people floss their teeth regularly. This is a surprisingly low number of people who are effectively caring for their dental health.

If you are one of the 95 percent, you may know on the surface that flossing is good for your health, but since you can’t see the results, you may think that flossing won’t make much difference. This is not the case, and individuals who do not floss are increasing their chances of other dental issues.

The benefits of flossing on a daily basis

Flossing provides several benefits- some immediate and some more long-term.

Stops bad breath: Cleaning the plaque from between your teeth will reduce the build-up between the teeth and reduce the bacteria in your moth. This will lead to enhanced breath.

Prevents gingivitis: The bacteria between your teeth will continue to grow if it is not removed. This can lead to gingivitis in your gums, which is extremely damaging to your teeth, gums, and your entire mouth.

Helps prevent cavities: Many cavities form between the teeth where brushing cannot reach. Flossing will eliminate the bacteria that causes cavities and keep your teeth sparkling and clean.

Reduction of plaque and tartar: Simply removing plaque from between teeth will help reduce your chances of tartar build-up. Tartar is bad for the teeth and uncomfortable to remove.

Reduces risk of periodontal disease: The more bacteria in your mouth, the higher your chances of getting periodontal disease. Keeping your teeth clean will help reduce your chances of getting a periodontal disease.

How often should I floss?

Some people believe they should floss after every meal, but unless you have something stuck between your teeth this is usually not necessary. The best way to floss is to choose one time to complete a thorough flossing and take the time to really clean out between every tooth. The evening before bed is often the best time to accomplish this. Adults may want to help children floss.

What is the best way to floss?

Flossing by pulling the floss straight between your teeth is not the most effective flossing method. Rather, you should form a “C” or cup around the tooth with the string. Gently pull the floss down between the teeth to remove the stuck plaque from between the teeth. This is more effective than simply running the string between the teeth and it also will reduce the chances of bleeding. For the most effective flossing routine, floss between every tooth that you can reach. Brush after flossing to remove the loosened plaque completely.

If you follow the correct procedure for flossing, you will improve the overall health of your mouth. It is important to clean your entire mouth for effective dental health, not just the visible surfaces of the teeth. In some cases, it can be of benefit to have your teeth professionally flossed, or you can ask your dentist to show you the most effective flossing method.