If you’re not flossing, you’re putting your dental health at risk. Here’s what you need to know about the importance of this daily practice.
It’s no secret that lots of people hate to floss. It’s occasionally slimy, takes time out of your day, and there’s no immediate payoff like the minty fresh feeling you get after brushing your teeth. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology found that 36 percent of Americans would rather wash dishes, clean a toilet, or do their taxes than floss.
Even if you find it bothersome, taking a few minutes to floss daily works wonders for your oral health over time and prevents serious health conditions. Learn more about the importance of flossing and how neglecting this daily practice puts your dental health at risk.
Is Flossing Really That Important?
Flossing is important because it helps combat plaque and tartar buildup by reaching areas that your toothbrush can’t. Your teeth have five surfaces that need to be cleaned — the front and back, the chewing surface, and the two sides. Even if you follow brushing best practices and brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, you’re only cleaning the first three surfaces.
If you’re not flossing and removing plaque from hard to reach areas, you’re increasing your risk of developing dental problems. At best, you might start to see some cavities — tiny holes in your tooth enamel that form when plaque and bacteria aren’t sufficiently removed — pop up. Most people get at least one cavity in their lifetime, but if the cavity is in between your teeth because you haven’t been flossing, it will be more difficult to fill. If left untreated, cavities can also lead to tooth decay.
At worst, skipping daily flossing increases your chances of developing gingivitis and periodontitis. Periodontitis, or gum disease, is an infection caused by bacteria that eats away at your gums and the bones supporting your teeth. Symptoms include swollen, red, and bleeding gums, pain when chewing, sensitive teeth, and eventual tooth loss. Unfortunately, once the disease progresses past gingivitis, the damage isn’t reversible.
Excess bacteria in the mouth and gum disease have also been linked to serious health conditions elsewhere in the body. A major study from the NIH in 2010 found that people with periodontitis were 20 percent more likely to develop heart disease. Also, people with diabetes are more vulnerable to dental problems because high blood sugar levels cause sugary saliva, which gives plaque the opportunity to flourish. If you add in a lack of flossing, you have the perfect recipe for severe gum disease.
How To Floss Properly
No matter how healthy you are, flossing is essential to keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Luckily, flossing is easy once you learn how to do it, and before long it’ll become second nature. Here’s the secret formula for proper flossing:
Start with an 8-inch section of floss and wrap the ends around a finger on each hand, holding the center of the floss steady with your index or pointer fingers. Thread the floss in between two teeth, hold the string tightly to one side, and gently press up and down against each tooth. Rinse away any food particles and repeat, paying special attention to the back teeth.
When you’re done, throw the floss away and rinse your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash.
Take Charge of Your Dental Health
To prevent periodontitis and keep your teeth healthy, flossing must be an integral part of your routine. If you haven’t flossed in a while, there’s still time to get back on track by getting into the habit of daily flossing and scheduling regular cleanings with your dentist. At Espire Dental, we treat every patient to a luxurious, anxiety-free experience so you can leave our offices smiling from the inside out. Contact us today for an appointment!