Doctor, what can I do to floss more often?

Dr. Virginia Elizabeth: I'm going to give you five great pieces of advice that you can use to get you to have healthier gums and a better quality of life.

1. Choose the floss you like. If you do not use floss that you like, you're less likely to floss. Choose a flavor you like. The floss I recommend is more of like a thicker floss, a waxed floss, something that expands as you're flossing.

2. You should place your floss right next to your toothbrush. A lot of people put it on the side of the counter or inside a drawer. It's a great reminder to put it right next to your toothbrush.

3. Floss before you brush. When you floss before you brush, you do it first and then you're just going to get it done. The other reason for that is when you floss first, you're going to loosen the bacteria in the plaque which is that clear slimy layer, that creamy white layer that develops on your teeth. When you floss first and then you brush second, that's already loosened and you'll get much better results with your teeth being cleaned.

4. Don't wait until you are too tired to brush and floss your teeth. If you wait too long, you're going to just say, I'm just going to brush and you're going to skip the flossing.

5. Choose the time that works best for you. Some people do well in the morning. Some people do well in the afternoon or in the evening. Evening is best because your mouth stays closed and you have bacteria growing inside your mouth and there's less salivary flow going through your mouth. As long as you do it about once every 24 hours, it doesn't really matter. The reason for that is, it takes about 24 hours for the bacteria to start sticking to the sides of your teeth and to the walls of your gums.

Should I floss before or after brushing their teeth?

It is better to floss before brushing one's teeth. Firstly, you get it over and done with. Secondly, it loosens the bacteria and the plaque, and when you brush afterwards, these come right off, resulting in a more effective cleaning. Flossing before brushing allows for better quality cleaning and better results.