Most people are aware of the standard recommendations for dental hygiene. You need brush twice per day and floss once per day. Yet, only one in three people actually remember to floss daily.
But, why is flossing so important?
Benefits of Flossing Your Teeth
Brushing without flossing is like mowing your yard without trimming along the fence. When you don’t get around the edges, growth accumulates. Without flossing, food particles and other debris can remain, increasing your risk of gum disease and other dental issues.
Learn more about these issues and the importance of flossing. Find out why dentists recommend flossing as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.
Below, I’ve outlined three primary benefits of flossing your teeth:
Flossing Helps Prevent Plaque Buildup
The main benefit of flossing is the prevention of plaque buildup. When you brush your teeth, you cannot get in the nooks and crannies of your mouth.
When you think of how to floss, the point is to get into those tight spaces. Toothbrushes are not designed to reach the tight spaces and gaps between your gums and teeth. Without flossing, you’ll end up with debris between your teeth. This promotes the growth of dental plaque.
Dental plaque buildup results in the growth of bacteria. There are over a thousand bacteria in dental plaque which can irritate your gums and cause inflammation. If this issue is not addressed, you increase your risk of:
- Gum disease
Regular flossing can prevent these problems.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gums. It is the first stage of gum disease and is also relatively easy to treat.
You may notice red or swollen gums or a receding gum line. You may also experience tenderness when brushing.
Flossing will help remove the plaque before it has an opportunity to harden. If the plaque does harden, it is more difficult to remove. The gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease – which is another name for gum disease.
Flossing Each Day Can Help to Prevent Cavities
Cavities are more likely to develop if you don’t floss daily. The reason for this is the spread of bacteria due to the growth of gingivitis. Bacteria will begin to destroy the enamel of your teeth, leading to a cavity.
That means the best way to floss is to do so daily. Again, flossing teeth helps to remove the buildup of plaque, which is responsible for the spread of cavity-causing bacteria.
Regular Flossing Can Protect Your Teeth and Gums
The bottom line is that regular flossing helps to protect your teeth and gums. It allows you to get between your gums and teeth and get rid of the plaque.
You don’t need to floss after each meal. The general recommendation is to clean between your teeth once per day. This should be sufficient to remove plaque before it hardens into calculus or tartar.
What Type of Floss Should I Use?
There are a variety of floss types available on the market today. Though each is a little different, they all share the common purpose of helping you keep your teeth cleaner.
Some of the most popular types are:
- Unwaxed floss, which is great for teeth that are very close together because it’s so thin, but it’s also prone to breakage.
- Waxed floss, which has a higher strength, but is best suited for teeth that have slightly larger spaces between them.
- Polytetrafluoroethylene floss, which is incredibly strong and is highly useful for cleaning around the gums.
- Super floss, which is an almost yarnlike fabric for cleaning braces, bridges, or implants.
Tools to Help Make Flossing Your Teeth Easier
If you don’t like traditional types of floss or find that they are hard to use, there are some products available that you can use in lieu of floss. These include:
- Floss holder, which is a y-shaped device with floss threaded between its two arms that makes cleaning between teeth easier, especially if you have trouble manipulating traditional floss.
- Toothpicks, which are useful for getting large chunks of food from between your teeth and gums.
- Tip stimulator, which is a plastic protrusion on some toothbrushes that is useful for massaging your gums and helping force any food out from underneath them.
At the end of the day, it’s all about doing what you can to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. There’s no one right or wrong way to do that, so choose the type of floss and flossing tools that work best for you.
Brushing alone is not enough to adequately protect your teeth and gums. You need to include flossing teeth in your daily oral hygiene routine to prevent gingivitis, gum disease, and cavities. The importance of flossing simply cannot be understated.
If you don’t currently floss on a daily basis, now is a good time to start. Along with regular flossing and brushing, don’t forget to schedule a dental exam at least once per year.