A decent bout of brushing and flossing makes your mouth feel clean, but there's another reason why employing these tools is so great.
Brushing teeth with a toothbrush and flossing removes tiny food particles and bacteria called plaque that build up on the surfaces of your teeth. When bacteria latch on to teeth surfaces, they tend to feast on the sugars from food in your mouth, releasing acids that can eat away at dental enamel over time.
Dental experts emphasize the importance of toothbrushes because they regularly remove these bacteria from your teeth. It turns out that what takes dentist's time -- and your money (and pain, perhaps) -- to fix might have been avoided with daily brushing.
Flossing also dislodges food buildup and plaque in areas of the mouth that are difficult to access with a toothbrush alone. Though it's not necessarily bad to floss after you brush, dentists say doing it beforehand will allow more fluoride, an ingredient known to keep tooth enamel strong, to reach surfaces between your teeth [source: American Dental Association].
Yet even among the most ardent brushers and flossers, plaque can still take hold. Read about a colorful way to troubleshoot this problem on the next page.