Every dentist appointment is the same: you cringe when your dentist asks you whether you floss. You promise your dentist you’ll start flossing, but then you promptly forget.
If you question the importance of flossing, you’re not alone. Some people claim flossing is unnecessary because there’s little scientific proof that flossing prevents tooth decay.
But despite the arguing voices, there are plenty of common sense reasons to floss. Flossing the correct way can improve your dental health in many ways.
1. Flossing Cleans Every Part of the Tooth
You brush your teeth because you want to remove food particles and plaque. But brushing only cleans about 60% of your tooth’s surface. What about all the particles that hide between and under the gum line? Flossing removes those small bits and protects your teeth from developing decay in hard-to-reach places.
Without flossing, the particles hidden between and around your teeth create a breeding ground for bacteria. As bacteria grows, plaque begins to form. Plaque is a strong indicator of unhealthy teeth and gums. Flossing reduces this undesired plaque buildup.
2. Flossing Prevents Gum Disease
When you brush and floss, you think first about protecting your teeth, but you might forget about your gums. As plaque between your teeth and under your gum line hardens, it forms tartar. This tartar causes your gums to turn red and swell. If it continues to spread, it could cause severe gum disease. And if gum disease is left unchecked, it could cause tooth loss.
In a review of 12 studies, researchers found that people who both brushed and flossed were less likely to have gum disease than people who brushed but did not floss.
3. Flossing May Prevent Other Diseases
Since flossing can prevent gum disease, it can help prevent other related diseases as well.
When mouth bacteria are allowed to grow and fester, they can contribute to the development of other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. In an analysis of several studies, researchers found that people with periodontal disease were more likely to have coronary heart disease. They concluded that periodontal disease could be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
How to Get the Most Benefits from Flossing
If you don’t see any of these benefits from flossing, you might not be flossing the correct way. Many people floss simply by moving a piece of floss in between their teeth. While this may remove large debris that’s easy to reach, it leaves many dangerous particles untouched.
To see the full benefits of flossing, you need to remove particles hidden between the contact points of the teeth and under the gum line. To do so, follow these steps:
- Get a long string of floss. Wrap the ends around the middle fingers on each hand.
- Use your thumb and forefinger to grasp the floss.
- Curve the floss and glide it into the small gap between two teeth.
- Move the floss up and down to remove particles between the tooth and around its curved sides.
- Keeping the floss curved around your tooth in a C shape, remove food particles near the top of the tooth and under the gum line.
- Use a new section of floss to repeat the above steps on the adjoining tooth.
- Repeat the process between the next two teeth.
This flossing method will help you dislodge food particles that brushing alone will not.
If you find using floss difficult, there are other types of floss that can make the process easier. Yshaped flossers, pics, and brushes can more effectively reach in the hidden areas of your teeth.
Most dentists recommend that you floss at least once a day.
Some people argue that there is little proof flossing prevents tooth decay. However, there is proof that flossing cleans your teeth, prevents gum disease, and keeps other diseases at bay. Floss the correct way and keep your teeth healthy all year long.