Why You Shouldn’t Forget to Floss!
During a routine visit to a dentist, you will be reminded to floss and brush daily. Patients are advised to floss at least once each day with an interdental cleaner. Although most dental patients receive regular reminders, only 16 percent of adults floss daily. The dental team from Al Berger DDS in Oakdale, New York wants to remind you of the importance of flossing on a consistent basis.
Dental Benefits of Flossing
Plaque is formed through a combination of food particles and bacteria. Plaque remains trapped inside of the mouth as a sticky film unless it is removed through brushing and flossing. If plaque is left in the mouth, the bacteria produces acids that damage tooth enamel. Over time, plaque contributes to tooth decay and cavities. Furthermore, plaque eventually hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar is very difficult to remove without specialized dental equipment. Tartar forms at the gum line and causes damage to the gums—eventually leading to gingivitis. Gingivitis symptoms include bleeding, redness, and swelling around the gums. Gingivitis is a pre-cursor to gum disease, a more serious medical condition. Severe gum disease attributes to bone loss in the jaw, receding gums, and tooth loss.
Flossing is an essential component in a plan to remove plaque from the mouth. Flossing with an ADA-approved interdental cleaner loosens plaque stuck between the teeth. Although most people only focus on teeth with visible food particles, it is important to floss between all teeth. A toothbrush alone will not be able to reach all areas of the mouth to remove bacteria. Flossing is responsible for eliminating approximately 40 percent of bacteria in the mouth.
It’s never too late to start flossing. Gingivitis symptoms are usually reversible once an individual starts to floss regularly. Although you may notice some bleeding when flossing at first, gum sensitivity and bleeding will actually lessen over time. Sooner is always better though for starting a daily flossing habit. Plaque starts the process of hardening into tartar as quickly as 48 hours after eating.
Secondary Benefits of Flossing
Flossing is not only good for your teeth, but promotes whole body health. After flossing, your mouth will feel cleaner and your breath fresher. Also, flossing removes any unsightly food stuck between the spaces in the teeth. You won’t feel smile shyness after you have removed any lodged food.
Flossing has been linked to preventing serious medical diseases. Research has demonstrated flossing improves blood sugar control for diabetic patients. Bacteria in the mouth can cause blood glucose levels to surge. Too much bacteria in the mouth may also enter the throat and lead to respiratory problems. Worse yet, bacteria could enter the bloodstream and damage the heart. Individuals with poor oral hygiene have an increased risk of developing blood clots and heart disease.
Floss or Brush First?
Gain even more dental benefits from changing the sequence of when you floss and brush. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Periodontology, the ideal way to care for the teeth is to floss first and then brush. In the 25 study participants, flossing first led to less plaque between the teeth. Flossing loosens bacteria while brushing after further removes it from the mouth. Furthermore, the study found that higher levels of fluoride remained in the mouth in participants who flossed before brushing.
Dental Floss Tips and Tricks
Choose floss that you feel comfortable using. For closely spaced together teeth, waxed floss may be easier to slide between each tooth. However, the majority of dental patients can use unwaxed versions. Flavor options like mint are available if you prefer the taste.
Break off a section of dental floss that measures approximately 18 inches. For convenience, companies do sell pre-measured strands. Wrap most of the strand around one of your middle fingers and a shorter section around the middle finger of your opposite hand. Keep floss in place by holding the strand with your thumbs and forefingers. Pick a section of the mouth to start and slide the floss between each of your teeth. Curve the floss at the base of each tooth to access under the gum line. Move floss up and down over the teeth and away from the gums. Pull off clean strands of floss as needed while cleaning between all teeth. Dispose of the floss after use.
- Never reuse a piece of floss. This could put harmful bacteria back inside your mouth.
- Although stuck food items are an annoyance, don’t look for relief from non-ADA approved items. Avoid using fingernails, cutlery, or safety pins to remove food between teeth.
- If you notice any pain when flossing, contact a dentist to confirm that it’s normal gum sensitivity and not a more serious dental problem. In most cases, you will find relief from the gum pain after several weeks of daily flossing. While flossing, check for changes inside your mouth such as pus around teeth, receding gums, and loose teeth.
- Avoid floss that uses Teflon fibers since the material has been linked to causing potential health issues.
- Most patients, even those undergoing dental treatments, can safely floss. A common misconception is that patient with braces or dentures can’t floss. However, there are specialty flosses available that can be used safely with braces and dentures.
Treatment for Gum Problems
Treatment is available for those who have developed issues over the years from not flossing. Al Berger DDS provides Soft Tissue Management treatments to eradicate common gum problems. Non-surgical methods are used including deep scaling, anti-microbial irrigations, and gum chartings. A friendly dental associate provides instruction on how to properly care for the gums to prevent serious issues from developing.
Dental patients located in the Oakdale office, can give our office a call to set up treatment options for gum problems. Routine dentistry services are available on-site as well as cosmetic and restorative treatments. Contact us today to learn more about how we help each and every patient achieve a beautiful smile.