Do you floss your teeth at least once per day? If you do, you’re doing a better job than most Americans. Only about 30% of U.S. adults floss daily, while another one-third admit to never flossing at all! For adolescents, the numbers are worse.
When you consider these statistics, it’s not surprising to hear that more than 9 in every 10 U.S adults has had a dental cavity, while more than 25% of adults have untreated tooth decay.
At Dr. Dental, we’ve witnessed firsthand how proper flossing benefits oral health. Why should you floss regularly? And are you flossing correctly?
Why You Should Floss Regularly
Flossing takes a small amount of time, yet its impact has enormous benefits for your teeth and gums. But that’s not all; here are five reasons to floss on a regular basis:
- Superior plaque removal. In the battle against plaque buildup, your toothbrush can only do so much. When you floss, you’re targeting the specific areas where plaque and bacteria tend to hide. That gives you a two-pronged attack against the main cause of tooth decay. Brushing alone is a losing proposition; add floss to your arsenal, and you’ll decrease your chances of getting cavities!
- Financial benefit. A container of floss costs around $2.00. If you floss regularly (and you should), you might make 6-8 floss purchases per year. That’s less than 20 bucks. But consider the costs of NOT flossing. When you don’t floss, you increase the likelihood that you’ll get gingivitis (a common gum disease), experience tooth decay or even have a root canal. In a pure numbers comparison, the benefits of flossing are clear: $20 per year vs (possibly) thousands of dollars in expensive dental care.
- Overall health. The link between oral health and overall health gets stronger every day. To cite just one example, skyrocketing cases of diabetes in the United States are correlated with poor dental care. To help patients deal with their medical condition, dentists and other healthcare professionals are urging those afflicted with diabetes to brush at least twice per day, visit their dentist once a year and…you guessed it: floss on a regular basis. Flossing helps remove food particles, bacteria and plaque along the gum line. And for diabetes patients, these little extra pockets of sugar can spike insulin to dangerous levels. Aside from diabetes, oral health is also linked to heart disease and many other afflictions. Want to stay as healthy as possible? Keep your teeth as healthy as possible!
- Eliminates tartar. Once plaque hardens, it becomes difficult to remove from the surface of your teeth. This hardened plaque, called tartar, is responsible for cavity formation, tooth decay and other oral health problems. The best way to avoid tartar buildup in the first place is by flossing. If you floss multiple times per week, plaque and tartar never have a chance to form; frequent flossing disrupts the slow buildup of tartar.
- Bye-bye bad breath. The food particles, bacteria and plaque that collect near your upper teeth and along the gums are a direct cause of bad breath. While brushing and rinsing with mouthwash are effective in neutralizing this bacteria, only one dental care tactic completely eliminates this root case of bad breath: flossing!
Signs You’re not Flossing Enough
Are you flossing regularly? If the following things happen to you, the answer is probably no.
- Bleeding gums during a dental visit. A thorough dental checkup includes a teeth cleaning procedure, and your dentist will probably floss your teeth. If your gums bleed whenever this occurs, that’s your mouth saying that you’re not used to flossing. Plus, due to the lack of regular cleaning, bacteria and acid start to erode your gums, thus creating “open wounds” in your mouth. Flossing can irritate these areas, which can cause your gums to bleed.
- Bad breath. Flossing is one of the most effective ways to eliminate the pesky, hard-to-reach bacteria that lives between the teeth and gums. Using an antiseptic mouthwash alone won’t do the trick; to really take the fight to unpleasant breath, make sure you’re flossing on a regular basis.
- Stained teeth. If you don’t floss, your teeth will experience greater plaque and tartar buildup – and that means stained teeth. In the United States alone, more than $1 billion is spent every year on tooth whitening products – which goes back to our previous point about the cost-benefit of floss. It’s an inexpensive dental care product that helps avoid costly dental care down the road!
How to Floss
To properly floss your teeth, follow these steps:
- Cut a piece of floss at least 12 inches long, and wrap it around one finger on each hand.
- Gently glide the floss between your teeth.
- Avoid sharp pulls upward toward your gums; this prevents your gums from bleeding.
- When the floss is near your gums, wrap the floss around your tooth.
- Move the floss downward; this removes food particles and plaque.
- Repeat for each tooth; don’t forget your back teeth!
Dr. Dental has helped thousands of patients improve their oral health. And even if you haven’t flossed in a while, our dentists can improve your teeth & gums with a dental cleaning. Visit any one of our greater New England dental offices today Thanks for reading the Dr. Dental blog!