According to the American Dental Association, you should floss at least once a day in order to maintain optimal oral health and prevent gum disease. If your gums are really healthy, flossing every other day or 3-4 times per week is fine. If you ever see any blood on your floss, just increase your frequency of flossing until any bleeding stops.
But do most people follow that advice? Unfortunately, no! In addition, a recent survey by the American Academy of Periodontology reports that nearly one in three adults will face some gum or periodontal disease during an average lifetime. After the age of 35, gum disease accounts for more tooth loss than cavities.
Unfortunately, a majority of us find flossing uncomfortable even if we acknowledge its benefits. But, as your dentist and hygienist never tire of telling you: Flossing is the best way to eliminate plaque and destructive bacteria from between teeth and below the gum line. Plaque that is not removed regularly hardens into tartar and calculus that must be professionally eliminated from tooth surfaces. The acids and toxins in the plaque, that are not removed, creates a chronic inflammatory response that can lead to swollen and bleeding gums, and bone loss. Once you lose bone, it never grows back and can progress to tooth loss.
Make Flossing a Habit
Even if you follow all other oral health guidelines, you do yourself a disservice by neglecting a daily flossing routine. Even if you are diligent about brushing, rinsing, regular checkups and professional cleaning, daily flossing should be a part of your normal routine. Floss the “old fashioned” way by passing the strand of floss manually between your teeth, or use a specially-designed flosser to maneuver in hard-to-reach areas, between the teeth and below the gum line. You will need “floss threaders” to floss between braces and bridges. If you never learned the proper way to floss, we’ll be happy to show you the proper technique.
You might also want to experiment with flavored flosses, or try waxed floss. Find a floss thickness that works well between all your teeth. Flossing can be uncomfortable at first and bleeding is common if you have not flossed in a long time. It may take practice to perfect the technique, but once you are flossing daily the bleeding should stop within the week. However, if you have periodontal (gum) disease and have deep pockets due to bone loss around the teeth, flossing alone will not keep your teeth healthy. We will discuss the treatment for gum disease if we find that you do have bone loss and deep gum pockets that are hard if not impossible to floss and clean out.
Why Is Flossing Important?
Even though all healthy mouths contain bacteria, it’s the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Unfortunately, these “outlaws” feast on the sugars and starches that can accumulate on tooth surfaces every time you eat or drink. The longer the bacteria is allowed to flourish, the stronger it becomes, eventually developing into sticky plaque deposits. The plaque that adheres to your teeth, generates acids that cause decay, swollen painful gums, bleeding and inflammation.
Poor oral health results in bad breath, stained teeth, cavities, bone loss and the possibility of losing your teeth. There is also evidence that poor oral health can lead to other medical problems and systemic pathologies. This occurs when oral bacteria gets into the blood stream through chronically inflamed gum tissue. The good news is that by altering your oral health routine, it can be relatively easy to prevent or even reverse early gum disease.
When Should Flossing be Done?
Most dental professionals will tell you that time of day matters less than time spent on flossing. Proper flossing takes some time and some concentration, so whether you add it to your morning or evening routine, make certain that you don’t rush through it. You might also like to floss after lunch to assure a fresh mouth for the afternoon and evening. To stress the importance of regular flossing to prevent decay and bone loss, it is better to brush and floss ONCE a day vs. brushing 10-20 times a day and never flossing. It only takes one 10 minute period a day to brush and floss well to keep your teeth for a life time. Make it even easier by flossing while you are watching the news, TV or if you don’t have high speed Internet, while you are waiting for a large file to download!
Flossing is as important for children as it is for adults. Instilling early habits for both brushing and flossing are vital for a lifetime of excellent oral health. The common recommendation is that parents help a child floss as soon as two teeth are situated together in the mouth. Of course, because some manual dexterity is needed to floss properly, you may have to help your children — or at least supervise their efforts — for several years, until you are certain they can do it well by themselves.
Would You Lie to Your Dentist about Flossing?
No, here at Briglia Dental Group we really don’t want an answer to that particular question. What we do want you to know is that we stand ready to answer any questions you may have about the benefits of flossing. We also will help you develop a daily routine that works for you, and we’ll help you practice flossing techniques until it all becomes second nature. Why not schedule an appointment for a regular checkup and routine cleaning? We want to set you on the path toward lifelong oral health. The bonus for us all will be strong teeth and beautiful smiles!
Feel free to call us at (610) 692-4440 for more information.