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Posted on: May 10, 2021
Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe
Why Is Flossing Important?
When it comes to oral health habits, you might think that flossing is optional if you brush your teeth twice a day. While brushing at least twice a day is ideal for removing plaque and food particles, our dentists also recommend that you floss daily in addition to brushing. Flossing helps you remove plaque and debris between your teeth and other hard-to-reach areas. Check out these reasons why flossing is an important part of your daily routine.
Reduce Your Risk of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, and it is characterized by red, swollen gums that may bleed while you brush or floss. This common dental problem develops when plaque accumulates on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film you can feel on your teeth, and it contains bacteria. In addition, plaque feeds off the sugars and starches found in many foods and drinks, producing an acid that can damage delicate gum tissue.
If plaque stays on your teeth for too long, it can harden into tartar, also called dental calculus. As tartar builds on teeth and under the gum line, bacteria clings to it, and this creates the perfect environment in your mouth for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria found in plaque and tartar are very irritating to the gums and produce toxins that cause inflammation, leading to the symptoms of gingivitis. By flossing every day, you can remove plaque before it turns into tartar, reducing your risk of gingivitis.
Prevent Tooth Decay
Preventing the buildup of plaque is also important for reducing your risk of tooth decay. If you have food particles stuck between your teeth, they can attract bacteria that develop into plaque. Over time, plaque bacteria damages tooth enamel, creating small holes. This is how a cavity develops. Make sure to floss at least once a day to remove plaque and food debris that are difficult to reach by brushing alone.
Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Disease
Flossing every day can do much more than help you achieve a healthy mouth; there is a growing body of research supporting the link between systemic diseases and chronic oral health problems. It is believed that an over proliferation of oral bacteria and inflammation are the two primary factors that play a role in the development of some diseases, including cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and diabetes. Flossing daily can help promote a healthier body by keeping plaque and bacteria under control.
Flossing is also an essential activity if you take certain medications that reduce saliva production. Saliva neutralizes acids produced by oral bacteria and also washes away food particles, which can prevent bacteria from multiplying in your mouth. If you suffer from a dry mouth, make an appointment with your dentist to see how you can best care for your oral health.
Prevent Bad Breath
Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is more common than you might realize. Daily flossing helps prevent bad breath by removing the food particles and bacteria that cause you to have foul-smelling breath. This makes flossing one of the easiest things you can do to banish bad breath.
When Should Kids Start Flossing?
Flossing is also important for kids to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Preventing cavities, reducing plaque, and promoting healthy gums are just a few of the benefits of flossing that kids can experience. Based on recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA), parents can start flossing their children’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that emerge side by side.
Fun Ways to Encourage Flossing for Kids
Teaching your kids to floss is an activity that can help your kids have healthy teeth and gums for life. Follow these tips to encourage your kids to floss daily:
- Floss as a family: To help your kids understand the importance of flossing, make sure you’re flossing along with them. It’s always more fun to do difficult things with another person, and this is also a good opportunity to demonstrate the proper flossing technique.
- Try positive reinforcement: Children respond favorably to positive feedback, so make it a habit to offer praise and encouragement when your children floss their teeth every day. Doing so can provide the motivation needed to make flossing a lifelong habit.
- Consider floss sticks: Flossing with traditional floss can be difficult for children. An easy way to encourage flossing is to let your kids choose their own child-friendly floss sticks. Their compact size makes it easy for kids to maneuver, and most come in a variety of bright colors or feature familiar characters. Once your child has become more familiar with flossing, then you can consider teaching him how to floss with traditional dental floss.
- Use a reward system: Encourage your kids to floss every day by providing small rewards. For instance, when your child flosses for a specific number of days in a row, you can reward them with a trip to the movies, offering extra TV time, or any other activity they find enjoyable.
How Should I Floss My Teeth?
To help you receive the benefits flossing provides, it’s time to provide some tips on the proper way to brush your teeth. Follow these simple steps to floss your teeth correctly every time:
- Wind about 18 inches of floss around the middle fingers of both hands.
- Pinch the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers.
- Use your index fingers to gently guide the floss between your teeth, using a zig-zag motion.
- Try to contour the floss around the sides of your teeth, making a C-shape as you wrap the floss around each of your teeth.
- Slide the floss under the gum line and up and down against the surface of each tooth.
- Unroll a clean section of floss as you move to each tooth.
By repeating this process every day, you’ll be engaging in a healthy habit that will not only benefit your oral health but also your overall health. During your appointment, your dentist or dental hygienist will be happy to show you how to properly floss.