Q: Do I have to floss?

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A: The American Dental Asociation recommends that you floss at least once a day. Brushing without flossing is like washing only 70 percent of your body – the other 30 percent remains dirty. If you haven’t flossed in a while, your gums may begin to bleed slightly. That is a good indication that your gums are in the early stages of gum disease, and will benefit from a regular flossing regimen.

Q: How do I floss properly?

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A: To floss properly, follow these simple steps:

Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the rest around a finger on the opposite hand.

Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Using about one-half inch at a time, gently guide the floss between your teeth. Be careful not to force the floss into the gums.

When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide the floss gently into the space between the gum and the tooth, making sure it goes all the way down under the gum. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Rub the side of the tooth gently with up and down motions to move the floss away from the gum.

Read More Q: How do I floss properly?

Q: How should I brush my teeth?

A: Brushing and cleaning between your teeth is the best way to remove plaque and keep it from forming. You should brush twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Brush using a circular motion, making sure you brush your gums as well. Improper brushing, such as using a back and forth motion, can actually wear out your teeth or leave behind harmful deposits, especially near the gumline.

Q: How often should I replace my toothbrush?

A: You should brush with a toothbrush with soft bristles. Be sure your toothbrush is the right size and shape to fit into all corners of your mouth. Your toothbrush should be replaced about every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are worn. Children’s brushes may wear out more quickly. Always look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the label of the toothbrush you choose, as well as on any dental product you purchase. Dental products that should have the ADA’s seal of acceptance may include toothpaste, tooth brushes, dental floss, interdental cleaners, mouth rinses and oral irrigators (waterpicks).