Many adults will probably admit that they have lied to their dentist a time or two about the frequency of their flossing. Some surveys have even shown that people would rather clean their toilet than floss! About a year ago, a new study came out challenging the necessity of flossing. Here are some tips on the importance of flossing, how often you should floss, and tools to make flossing easier.
The Importance of Flossing
When you don’t floss, you are not cleaning the sides of your teeth. Food particles that remain in between your teeth turn into plaque, a biofilm or bacteria that grows on surfaces in the mouth. Biofilm is made up of hundreds of types of bacteria. Buildup of biofilm allows pathogens to survive which can lead to other complications such as cavities between teeth or gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums which leads to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a very serious disease which can enter the bloodstream and internal organs including the heart and respiratory tract. It is linked to diabetes as well as low birth weight when present in pregnant women.
How Often Should You Floss?
There are varying opinions by dentists on how often you should floss. At minimum, most professionals recommend flossing at least three times a week for a healthy adult with no other dental complications. Flossing more than once a day is not necessary and it is best to floss at night to remove food particles that have been trapped between teeth during the day. Anytime you notice bleeding when brushing or flossing, this indicates the possibility of gingivitis and a need for flossing. Flossing just once a day prevents biofilm buildup.
If you struggle with flossing because of teeth that are tight, there are many flosses designed to address this problem. Wax coated flosses are also much less likely to break. “Y” shaped plastic flossers can also allow extra reach. If traditional string floss is not for you, try interdental cleaners which are wooden or plastic pics. You may also consider an electric interdental cleaner such as a water flosser or air flosser. These devices use the force from water or air to remove food particles from between the teeth. Some devices will even allow you to add mouthwash to clean teeth with, allowing for added tooth protection and breath freshness.
So, wouldn’t you say flossing is important? Although the necessity and frequency of flossing may vary some from person to person, with all the preventative benefits of flossing, why would you want to remove it from your normal hygiene routine? You only get one set of adult teeth, do all you can to protect them!