When you were a kid, you probably heard from your dentist and parents that you need to floss every day. But, do you really need to floss?
Isn’t brushing enough?
No, actually, it isn’t.
It turns out that flossing isn’t something your dentist suggests lightly. It’s something you should do every single day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy.
Flossing is important for several reasons:
Helps prevent cavities. When you eat, bacteria in your mouth get trapped between your teeth and then harden into plaque. This plaque is what causes cavities. By removing this plaque with floss, you are preventing cavities from forming. Brushing alone does not remove plaque sufficiently.
Prevents bad breath. Bacteria on your tongue feed off of food particles left behind in your mouth after you eat. These bacteria produce an odor called halitosis, or bad breath. The more we eat, the more bacteria there will be on our tongues. By cleaning food particles from between the teeth regularly using floss, you can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and therefore reduce the likelihood of experiencing bad breath.
Reduces periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria living in your mouth. As these bacteria build up in your mouth over time, they cause inflammation and damage to your gums. Over time, this can result in loose or missing teeth. Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from between your teeth and gums, reducing the risk of gum disease.
Reduces the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that people who floss regularly are less likely to develop cardiovascular problems like stroke or high blood pressure.
A Word About Gum Disease
Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other health complications. If you don’t take care of your oral hygiene routine, you may end up developing gum disease. And if you already have gum disease, it can get worse quickly without proper treatment. So, if you want to avoid serious dental issues, make sure you practice good oral hygiene at least twice per day.
Untreated gum disease can lead to:
- Tooth loss
- Bad breath
- Swollen gums
- Pus-filled pockets
- Bone loss
- Oral cancer and other forms of cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Low birth weight in babies
- Lung conditions
If you think you might have gum disease, see your dentist right away. Your dentist will check your mouth to determine whether you have any signs of gum disease.
How Often Should I Floss?
The American Dental Association recommends that you brush twice daily and floss once daily. That said, if you have something stuck between your teeth, floss sooner rather than later.
How Do You Use Floss?
There are two ways to use floss:
With floss wrapped around the fingers. To remove debris from between your teeth, take a piece of dental floss and hold one end between your thumb and index finger on each hand. Then, slide the floss down both sides of each tooth until you reach where you want to clean. Pull gently to get rid of any debris. Repeat on all your teeth.
With a floss threader. You can purchase single-use threaders or reusable threaders in which you replace the floss after each use. If you are using a reusable threader, take a small piece of floss and fold it in half lengthwise. Insert the folded part of the floss into the floss threader until you reach the other side. Now, simply follow the same steps as above. Threaders are designed specifically to make flossing easier. They’re also great for those who wear braces.
What About Water Flossers?
Water flossers are another option to help you get the job done. A water flosser works much like a regular flosser but uses pressurized water to remove plaque from between your teeth. There are several different types of water flossers available. Some even attach to your toothbrush.
What If I Have the Signs of Gum Disease?
If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your dentist immediately:
- Bleeding gums
- Sores around your gums
- Loose teeth
- Blackened gums
- Broken teeth
- Yellowed gums
- Cracked teeth
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Mouth sores
- Tooth pain
- Tooth sensitivity
Treatments for gum disease include scaling and root planing. Scaling is when the dentist removes plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth. Root planing helps remove infected tissue from below the gum line. Both treatments should be performed by a periodontist.
So What if You Forget to Floss?
It’s easy to forget to floss every now and then. But, if you do forget to floss, there is no need to panic. Just remember to start again tomorrow! And of course, don’t stop coming to us for your regular cleanings and checkups!