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A vibrant, healthy smile begins with oral health habits. This means brushing and flossing every day to prevent oral bacteria and dental plaque from building up on your teeth and gums, leading to cavities and gingivitis.


Brushing is highly effective at cleaning most tooth surfaces and the tongue which tends to collect bacteria, but it cannot clean those areas between the teeth and around the gumline where bacteria build up. This is where flossing enters the picture, as it can reach those areas where a toothbrush cannot.


Unfortunately, dental plaque has more than 1,000 bacteria in it, according to Clinical Microbiology Reviews. When bacteria proliferation goes unchecked, it irritates the gums, causing them to inflame, swell, and bleed. To make matters worse, this, in turn, makes bacteria grow even more and causes gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis advances into periodontal disease, which affects the rest of the body as harmful bacteria enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body, harming the heart and respiratory system, and other organs.


If gingivitis weren’t bad enough, dental plaque also leads to cavities if it isn’t removed daily. To keep dental plaque in check, you should brush 2-3 times each day and floss once, preferably at bedtime. Your goal is to remove food particles and oral plaque hiding around the gumline and between the teeth.


Flossing is easy and doesn’t take much of your time. Find a method you enjoy using and do it! Many people still prefer dental floss or dental wax, as it’s economical and easy to use.

To floss, take out an 18″ strip, wrap some around your index and middle fingers, and stick it between your teeth. Just slide a clean section up and down to loosen debris between teeth and along the gumline. If you prefer, you can use an oral irrigator, dental flosser, or interdental brush instead. Whichever method you choose, follow up with an antibacterial mouthwash and you are done for the night.


To learn more about how to clean your smile, or to schedule an appointment with our dentist, please call Westlake Family Dentistry at 910-864-2944 today. Dr. Mike Choe and our team in Fayetteville, North Carolina, are here to support all your oral care needs!