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Ask The Dentist:
Flossing and Gum Chewing

Q. I am new to flossing. Do I just need to run the floss in between the teeth or do I do something with the floss when it is down at the bottom?

A. Once in between the teeth, pull the floss close to the front and back of the tooth. Then, slide the floss up and down along the tooth, going gently below the gums.

Next while the floss is in between the same 2 teeth, pull the floss across the front and back of the other tooth and slide the floss up and down as before. Happy flossing.

Q. My floss tears almost every time I floss my back bottom teeth. Then I have an annoying (and almost painful sometimes) piece of floss hanging there until it decides to free up.

Should I just skip flossing between those teeth?

A. It sounds like you may have a filling that isn't smooth and the floss "catches" on part of the filling as you try to floss.

It would be a good idea to have your dentist look at it to check the filling. Otherwise, the problem will continue.

Q. People make jokes about the commercials (4 out of 5 dentists…) but is chewing gum a good alternative to brushing teeth when you can't brush? Even if it has sugar?

A. Chewing gum can be a good alternative to brushing when that's not an option. It is important to chew sugar free gum that has an ingredient called "xylitol".

This is a sugar substitute that does not promote tooth decay. Some other sugar substitutes may be less likely to cause cavities, but still potentially can.

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Marsha Pyle DDS
Marsha Pyle DDS

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