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Have you ever used a toothpick at a restaurant and then decided you didn’t need to floss that day? Stand-in flossing devices, while designed to remove annoying bits of food, can’t clean the hard-to-reach places of your mouth.

Only dentist-approved flossing tools can reach the plaque that gathers between teeth and around gums. When left alone, plaque hardens into tartar and can only be removed through professional dental care. Tartar buildup results in swollen, bleeding gum tissue (also known as gingivitis), tooth decay and gum disease. In April of 2012, the American Heart Association discovered a link between tartar buildup and the hardening of arteries.

If you haven’t flossed in a while, it may be uncomfortable. It’s common to experience mild bleeding around the gums for a while. Any discomfort should disappear in about a week.

The time of day you choose to floss and whether you floss before or after brushing your teeth don’t matter, as long as you do a thorough job. Flossing at a consistent time each day will help you cultivate excellent oral care habits. Children should begin flossing with the help of an adult as soon as they have two or more teeth that touch.

Flossing tools come in the form of string, pre-threaded floss sticks, water flossing and tiny brushes. Bethaney B. Brenner can help you decide which flossing tool is best for you. Visit Bethaney B. Brenner, DMD, LLC in Burlington, Connecticut or call 860-673-7155 to receive answers to your flossing questions.