“Are you flossing daily?” The most dreaded question you hear during your dental check-ups. And, if you are like a lot people, you probably look your dentist right in the eye and lie right through your un-flossed teeth. Most of us fib just a little when it comes to how often we really do floss. As a matter of fact, 27% of adults lie to their dentists about how often they floss their teeth, a recent survey found.
The truth is most of us don’t floss enough and flossing is an extremely important part of your oral care routine. According the American Dental Association, only 50% of Americans floss daily, 31% floss less than daily, and 18% do not floss at all.
Here are some reasons you should be flossing:
Prevents tooth decay – The bacteria that builds up can cause more damage in between your teeth than other parts. This is because not all the bacteria is removed by your tongue, other foods and your saliva. Flossing cleans the places your toothbrush can’t by removing the food, bacteria and plaque that builds up between teeth. If you don’t floss away the plaque that hides in between your teeth, it will eat away at your enamel, causing cavities and gum disease.
Prevents Gum Disease – If you have gum disease, you are not alone. One out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease (gum disease), according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study estimates that 47.2 percent, or 64.7 million American adults, have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.
Why should you care about gum disease? If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss as well as worsen other systemic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
It Could Save Your Life – There is a lot of research that points to a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease, diabetes and even dementia. People with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Researchers don’t know exactly how heart disease and periodontal disease are connected, although it is known that periodontal disease, heart disease, and arthritis are all partially caused by the body’s own inflammatory response. By flossing, you might be preventing much more serious health problems down the road.
Improves the health of your gums – If you haven’t been flossing you may experience bleeding at first. Your gums bleed because the bacteria that has been sitting there forever causes inflammation and bleeding. But, don’t stop flossing if you do experience bleeding, keep at it once a day, and in a few weeks, you’ll probably see an improvement. Flossing is like going to the gym, if you go on a regular basis, your body is used to working out and doesn’t get extremely sore from a workout.
Prevents Bad Breath – Bad breath or halitosis is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth. Food particles stuck between teeth can be easily removed by flossing; leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.
Flossing is really simple once you’ve learned how and it’s the best way to prevent gum disease, along with regular visits to Dr. Griffin. The areas between the teeth are not always accessible by a toothbrush, so flossing should be done on a daily basis. The type of floss you choose, waxed, unwaxed, flavored or unflavored, is totally up to you.
Here’s how to floss the right way:
- Start with a piece of floss about 18 inches long.
- Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.
- Work the floss gently between your teeth toward the gum line.
- Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.
- Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove plaque and debris from between the teeth.
- Do not pop the floss in and out between the teeth as this cut the gums and cause inflammation.
Twice yearly cleanings and check-ups with Dr. Griffin are very important for good oral health, but your at-home regimen of brushing and flossing is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
If you have any questions about the correct way to floss, or if you need to schedule your next appointment with Dr. Griffin, please do not hesitate to call us, at 972-242-2155. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.