Floss Hater? 5 Reasons Why Flossing is So Important!
Dentists, hygienists and most dental professionals truly work tirelessly to help continue to educate our patients. If one had to pick one product, whether to brush or floss, choose flossing! Flossing covers more surface area cleaning-wise on each tooth (properly flossing of course) over solely brushing. Flossing is not an optional habit and should always be a priority.
One survey conducted by the Dentists' Association reveals that 4 in 10 people floss their teeth once a day, and 20% of people never floss at all! Most people ignore the importance of flossing or are unsure how to do it correctly. Based on our survey in our office, about 50% never floss and about 25% seldom floss. That leaves us maybe a full 25% of our patient population that flosses an estimated 5 times a week.
What Are the Benefits of Flossing?
Flossing provides several benefits:
- Prevents Tooth Loss: Generally, brushing and flossing work together to preserve dental health. At least 35% of teeth surfaces will not be cleaned if one only brushes and does not floss. Brushing and flossing promote healthy gums and teeth, helping to prevent oral diseases and tooth loss.
- An Opportunity to Examine Your Mouth: Regular flossing can help you examine your mouth, teeth, gums, and tongue more closely for changes including any redness, soreness, or swelling. Health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, certain cancers, eating disorders, and substance abuse may cause swelling or redness in the gums and lesions in the mouth. Bleeding with flossing is often one of the first signs of gingivitis and should prompt you to call for an immediate dental hygiene visit and exam.
- Keeps Your Teeth Clean: Do you eat dried fruits, sticky candies, or crunchy foods? The food particles can often get stuck between teeth. All surfaces of the teeth need to be cleaned as perfectly as possible every 24 hours. Also, dried fruits are rich in sugar which can encourage plaque buildup and result in tooth decay. Fortunately, flossing will help keep your teeth clean, regardless of what you eat.
What Does Flossing Do?
Most people ignore flossing because they have not been properly informed WHY they should floss. Once they see bleeding, a common response is to stop flossing or say, “My gums always bleed!” as an excuse to stop flossing. Bleeding means one needs to floss more and that one needs the help of a dental professional! Bleeding is due to the accumulation of bacteria and after an extended and untreated period of time, tartar or calculus buildup (hardened deposits) with gum inflammation will be present, indicating more need for a professional dental exam and care. Once there is hardened buildup, one is no longer able to brush or floss to remove it. It must now be scraped off the affected teeth by a dental professional.
If you have never flossed before, your gums may bleed in a few areas or more. The bleeding could stop for the most part within a week or two, but one still needs a dental professional evaluation and hygiene visit. Ignoring flossing allows harmful bacteria and plaque to accumulate in the mouth, causing cavities and periodontal disease. Brushing helps clean your teeth and mouth, but it can be tough to clean between your teeth without floss. That is why dentists recommend patients to incorporate flossing into their daily oral health habits.
Five Reasons Why Flossing Is Important
1. Prevents Gums Disease
Plaque on your teeth does not just stain your teeth but also can lead to gum disease. As the disease progresses, it damages your soft gum tissue and the underlying ligaments and bone, causing periodontitis, the advanced form of gum disease. If left untreated, periodontitis can result in tooth loss. However, flossing cleans the plaque between your teeth and helps to avoid:
- Receding gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth and bone loss
2. Prevents Heart Disease
Your gums might bleed if you do not floss and this is a sign of gingivitis. However, gingivitis in its earlier stages can be reversed with good oral hygiene. Otherwise, it allows plaque and bacteria to enter your bloodstream, causing plaque buildup in vessels and possibly heart disease. According to research, a person with gum disease has a 20% chance of developing heart disease. Thus, flossing is essential to reduce this risk!
3. Reduces Bad Breath
The buildup of plaque and bacteria causes bad breath. However, flossing freshens your breath, eliminating the bad smell. Periodontal disease has a particular smell or malodor. It is troublesome for those affected, people with it have a difficult time smelling it on themselves.
4. Prevents Tooth Decay
Sticky candies or dry fruits trapped between your teeth can result in cavity-causing plaque after a few days, further resulting in tooth decay. However, flossing removes the plaque from between teeth.
5. Brightens Teeth
Flossing removes leftover food particles and plaque accumulated between your teeth and makes them look brighter.
Tips to Floss Properly
- Cut the floss to about 18 to 24 inches.
- To hold it correctly, wind each end of the floss around your middle fingers and leave only 1 to 2 inches of it for your teeth. (Just focus on having a tight area of a 1-2 inches to use.)
- Hold the floss with your forefingers and thumbs and place it between two teeth. Gently glide the floss up and down to remove the leftover food particles.
- Make sure to gently glide the floss just into your gums and stop once there is resistance. Once the floss touches your gums, curve it at the base of the tooth to form a C shape, allowing it to enter the space between your gums and tooth.
- Repeat the same steps for each tooth remembering that one needs to floss on both sides of each tooth including the last tooth in each arch.
Knowing and understanding the importance of flossing will keep you motivated, even when you find the process tedious. To become a skilled and quick flosser, it will take practice just like every other skill one does well in life that has been practiced until mastered. Do not get discouraged! It is your health we are talking about; this is necessary skill for a lifetime!
We genuinely care about your health. Our practice, Smile Arizona Dentistry is located in south Scottsdale, AZ, and is available to play a key role to help you maintain optimum oral care and health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your routine care and hygiene visit!
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