This is a guest post written by Ron from Hawkesbury Dentist, who’s an expert on the importance of dental care. If you wish to learn more about the importance of dentistry please click here.
Why do people floss? It’s time consuming, rather icky and often leads to bleeding gums from inadvertent nudging. And how the heck do you know you’re doing it right.
Flossing can be a pain in the neck, and most people don’t bother to do it regularly, if at all. But the fact is flossing is as important as brushing your teeth for good oral health because it reaches places that a toothbrush can’t. Brushing and flossing are effectively two sides to a coin; good luck having one without the other.
Brushing removes plaque and food particles from the surface of the teeth, making your smile sparkly. But flossing removes the same thing from between the teeth. Since it isn’t usually immediately evident, most people can pretend that there’s nothing there, nothing at all. That is, until the next visit to the dentist and the drill comes out.
Flossing is primarily responsible for preventing periodontal disease, a fancy way of saying gum disease. Gums can get irritated when plaque builds up between the teeth, forming tartar which makes gums red and sensitive. If your gums bleed when you brush, chances are you are at high risk of gum disease. It also means you don’t floss.
Gum diseases that can develop because you don’t floss include gingivitis, which is the reddening and bleeding of gums, and the more serious periodontitis, where gums separate from the teeth to alleviate the irritation of the tartar build up. Spaces form between the gum and teeth, where bacteria will start to breed. The bacteria will eventually destroy the tissues holding your tooth in place if you wait long enough. It can get loose enough that you can play your teeth like a piano. By that time, it’ll be too late to save the tooth.
Another benefit of flossing is preventing your tooth from rotting. Tooth decay (dental caries) can develop when the starch and sugars in the food stuck between your teeth breaks down the cells of the hard protective layers of the tooth (enamel, dentin and cementum). If left untreated, this rotting (demineralization) will lead to the formation of cavities in the tooth. The breakdown continues until the tooth is gone, or a dentist treats it, whichever comes first.
Another, rather obvious if you really think about it, function of flossing is avoiding bad breath. Imagine having food stuck between your teeth for a week. It’s sure to rot, so if you start smelling the bacon you had two days ago, only a little riper, then it’s time to break out the floss.
Aside from all the money you’ll save from having to visit the dentist or dentures made, flossing regularly ensures that you will still have all or most of your own teeth in old age. Dentists recommend flossing at least once a day, and that it should be done before brushing your teeth. This will ensure that your tongue won’t encounter a nibble of food as you’re going out the door or dropping off to sleep.