Why Flossing Is So Important
Only 40% of Americans floss at least once a day, and 1 in 5 Americans never floss. Those statistics are concerning (even as a Canadian!), especially when you consider how critical flossing is to your oral health. What are some of the reasons why you should take the time to floss on a regular basis?
Remove Plaque From the Teeth
Plaque can accumulate between your teeth, on the surface of your teeth, and even at the gum line. This film is not easy to spot with the naked eye, but you’ll spot it eventually when it hardens and becomes tartar. Plaque forms naturally in your mouth as you eat or drink sugar-rich foods. Flossing and brushing your teeth are two ways to get rid of the substance.
Why is removing plaque in a timely fashion so important? Failing to do so will lead to tartar development, eventual tooth decay, and even gum disease. Another way to get rid of plaque is by visiting your dentist for a cleaning. However, even visiting every 6 months is not enough to keep tartar and plaque out of your mouth without brushing and flossing.
Know What’s Happening in Your Mouth
It might sound a little bit silly, but your mouth is a big indicator of your overall health. In fact, there are numerous conditions that can be spotted in the mouth before the rest of the body. When you floss and complete your oral care routine on a daily basis, it will be easier to spot when there are irregularities. If you don’t have gum disease, for example, and you notice consistent swelling in a part of your mouth, you can contact your dentist to have it evaluated.
Lower Your Risk of Tooth Decay and Cavities
Cavities form over time in your mouth when small holes form in the enamel covering your tooth surface. It can take a long time for a cavity to develop and require a filling, but consistently poor oral care habits are often the cause. Flossing will get rid of the hidden food particles that are lurking between your teeth so that they cannot cause hard-to-notice cavities that will surprise you the next time you visit the dentist.
Avoid Gum Disease
Gum inflammation, bleeding gums, and painful gums can all be related to gum disease. One reason why patients develop gum disease is plaque building up around and under the gums. While your dentist will remove this build-up during your cleaning appointment, there is a lot of time between appointments where things can go wrong. Make sure that you floss once a day and brush twice a day.
Prevent Bad Breath
Many people brush their teeth to avoid having bad breath, but flossing is the only way to get rid of all of the bacteria that can lead to a foul odor. Any time that pieces of food get stuck between your teeth, they will start to decompose. This process is part of what makes your breath smell bad. Additionally, cavities, untreated tooth decay, and gum disease can also lead to sour breath. By flossing, you will prevent those from happening in the first place.
How Often Do You Need to Floss?
Unlike brushing your teeth, you only need to floss one time every day. In general, it’s a good idea to floss before you brush so that particles between your teeth can be brushed away easily. Consistency is most important. If you find that you have trouble remembering to floss before bed at night, doing it in the morning is just fine. In the same vein, some people prefer to floss at night and would forget to do so in the morning. As long as you are flossing at some point once a day, you are doing a good job.
What Type of Floss Should You Use?
The most common types of floss are waxed and plain. Waxed floss has a thin coating on it that can make it easier to get between tight teeth. Waxed floss can also be flavored for a more enjoyable experience and even fresher breath. However, studies have found that there is no real difference in efficacy between waxed and unwaxed floss, so you can choose whichever one you prefer.
In some cases, people have tight teeth or find it hard to use traditional floss to manually clean between their teeth. When that is the situation, a water flosser might be more appropriate. These tools used targeted streams of water at different pressures to knock loose the same debris that could be knocked loose by traditional dental floss. If you are not sure which type of floss is best for your needs, speak with your dentist at your next cleaning appointment.
Helpful Flossing Tips
In order to get the most debris out from between your teeth, you should always follow these tips when flossing:
- Tear off a piece of floss that is about 2 feet in length to give you plenty of space to work with.
- Wind floss around your fingers and use one to two inches of floss between each of your teeth.
- Do not push or dig the floss into your gums. Instead, focus on gliding it on the surface of your teeth up into your gums. Stop the moment that you start to feel resistance. Curve the floss to create a C shape and remove bacteria and plaque.
- Floss every single tooth in your mouth. Even your back teeth can accumulate bacteria on the back side.
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