While we all know toothbrushing is critical to a healthy mouth, it is equally important to understand the benefits of daily flossing. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, only 30 percent of Americans floss daily, and 33 percent say they never do. This thinking needs to change.
No matter how well you brush, the bristles can’t get between teeth. If you have ever brushed until every surface feels marble smooth and then notice flecks of food when you floss, you can see why removing debris between the teeth is so important.
Why Flossing Works
Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. These conditions usually begin with a bacterial infection in the gingival tissue. If left untreated, it eventually destroys both the tissue and the underlying bone.
Bacterial infection in gingival tissue causes the body to create an inflammatory response that contributes to gum disease. It can deepen the pockets between teeth and gums and eventually cause the gums and jawbone to recede. Without adequate support, teeth could eventually loosen and fall out.
It is also important to remove plaque because it can harden into calculus (tartar), a substance that can only be removed by a dentist. Daily flossing is a simple way to ward off tartar and keep your teeth healthy.
Flossing Helps Overall Health
By maintaining proper oral health, you can help prevent other health problems. The American Dental Association and American Heart Association both acknowledge a link between cardiovascular problems and periodontal disease. Recent research published by the National Institutes of Health show people with gum disease have a 20 percent higher chance of developing heart disease. The most prominent theory is that gum disease causes inflammation elsewhere in the body and narrowing of the arteries.
Other studies suggest links between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer. Research also shows that people with diabetes, who are already at greater risk of infection and inflammation, develop gum disease at higher rates than non-diabetics. Those who manage their blood sugar successfully, however, lower their risk of gum problems.
Whether you use waxed, unwaxed, or tape types of dental floss, the most important point is that you use it at least once a day to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay. Contact our dental office to schedule your next appointment and stay on top of your oral health at home.