You do your best to keep your teeth clean and in good condition. But when you’re rushing out the door in the mornings, cutting out regular flossing for a few free minutes seems an easy choice. You always brush your teeth thoroughly with the occasional use of mouthwash, so is flossing really that important?
Flossing can actually have more of an impact on your health than you realize, and putting it off can affect more than just your gums. For more information about why flossing is important, read on.
Your teeth naturally accumulate plaque on the surface of the teeth, creating a biofilm of sticky, soft material. While brushing can remove plaque from the broad surfaces of the teeth, the bristles of the brush can’t get in between the teeth to effectively remove every bit of plaque. But floss can get where these bristles can’t, removing plaque from between the teeth and along the gumline.
How Can Flossing Affect Your Oral Health?
When the bacteria in the plaque consume sugar from different foods you eat, they produce an acid that can wear down the enamel of your teeth and cause cavities, decay, and possible tooth loss. And, over time, plaque can harden into tartar, which can be impossible to remove without a professional dental cleaning. A buildup of tartar can cause gum disease and even periodontitis.
However, the addition of flossing in your daily routine can do more than keep decay and gum disease at bay. By flossing before you brush, you’ll clear debris from the hard-to-reach areas in your mouth. This step also allows the fluoride in toothpaste to adequately cover all surfaces of tooth enamel and better protect your teeth.
Flossing can also keep your breath fresher without that extra mint or piece of gum. The prolonged presence of plaque can leave a bad smell in your mouth, resulting in an unpleasant case of halitosis.
How Can Flossing Affect Your Overall Health?
Surprisingly, flossing not only protects your mouth but also your body’s overall health. If you develop gum disease, it can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease, and it may even contribute to respiratory problems.
If you have diabetes, you’re already at a higher risk for gum disease because your tissues can have a harder time healing than individuals without diabetes. Flossing is essential to keep your mouth healthy and free of gum disease.
How Can Flossing Affect Your Wallet?
Because flossing can help keep your gums and teeth healthy, it can actually do your finances a favor. When you properly floss on a daily basis, you can reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, which can cut down on dental costs in the long run.
Filling a cavity can cost anywhere between $75 and $150 for each filling, and that service is one of the cheaper treatments available. Should your gum disease develop into periodontitis or your tooth decay rapidly lead to tooth loss, you could spend hundreds of dollars or more on treatments, dental implants, and other procedures.
How Do You Floss Correctly?
Flossing your teeth may seem like a hassle, but it only takes a couple of minutes each morning or evening. To floss effectively, do the following:
- Use an 18-inch piece of floss. Wrap each end around your middle fingers to make the process easier.
- Holding the floss between your thumbs and forefingers, slide a clean section of floss between your teeth, and gently pull the floss to one side so it will create a C shape around one tooth. You want the floss to hug the tooth for effective plaque removal.
- Slide the floss up and down the tooth to remove the plaque. Do the same on the opposite tooth.
- Repeat the whole process with every tooth, making sure you use a clean section of floss with each tooth.
If you haven’t flossed for a while, there may be some bleeding and discomfort, but these symptoms should go away as you continue to floss on a daily basis.
What Floss Should You Use?
Shopping for floss may seem a tad overwhelming. There are many different floss options and tools, and it can be difficult to determine what’s best for your teeth.
If you struggle to muster up the will to floss, use Y-shaped flossers that allow for easy, quick flossing. There are also flosses made of Teflon that are more suitable for tight teeth. So if you struggle to wedge floss between your teeth, these flosses are a great option for you. However, if you have wider spaces between your teeth, consider using floss tapes to remove all that plaque.
For those with braces or permanent retainers, floss threaders easily get floss in between the wires.
Visit a Dentist
While properly brushing and flossing can keep plaque and tartar at bay, you should regularly visit a dentist. They can remove any tartar that’s collected on your teeth, and they can check to make sure your gums and teeth are healthy. Contact a local dentist, such as Schererville Family Dentistry, to schedule an appointment for you and your family