Why is Flossing so Important?

by West Coast Dental

Most of us know that brushing our teeth is important for maintaining a healthy mouth, but is flossing necessary?

Regular check-ups and thorough daily brushing combined with flossing is the best way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease occurs when bacteria from food and other debris is left around the teeth and gums. It is an infection that affects the gums and bone surrounding your teeth. If the bacteria isn’t regularly removed, it can cause layers of plaque to build up (a sticky yellow film), and this will eventually harden to tartar which can only be removed by your dentist or periodontist.  In severe cases, gum disease can lead to bone and tooth loss. Routine cleaning with your dentist will also help to prevent gum disease.

Why Does Flossing Work?

Unlike brushing, flossing enables you to release food and other debris from between your teeth by lifting it out. Brushing alone will only reach the outer surfaces of the teeth. So, flossing is necessary for removing build-up between your teeth and for preventing bad breath.

How Often Should I Floss? 

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you clean in between your teeth using floss or other interdental cleaners at least once a day. Flossing should be done before brushing, to loosen anything stuck between your teeth. Removing the debris first will allow the toothpaste to reach all surfaces of the teeth. It doesn’t matter what time of day you floss, as long as you do it daily.

How Should I Floss Effectively?

It is important that you use the correct technique to floss as doing it incorrectly can cause damage to the gums.[SSG1]  Since flossing is necessary for dental and overall health, let’s take a look at the proper way to floss.

Before flossing, make sure you wash your hands because they will be near and inside your mouth when flossing. Break off a piece of floss around 20 inches long and wrap it around either both of your middle fingers or both of your index fingers leaving enough floss to go in between your teeth. Gently insert the floss between your teeth and move it up and down. Be sure to get below the gum line where plaque builds up the most. Use a different section of floss for each tooth, and remember to floss the backside of your last tooth as it often gets forgotten because it’s difficult to reach. It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you floss between every tooth.

Your gums may bleed when you first start flossing. This is a sign that you need to be cleaning your teeth and gums more thoroughly. If you continue to floss regularly, this will eventually stop. Bleeding occurs because the gums are irritated and swollen from the build-up of plaque. The good news is that the build-up is reversible.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is also important for your overall health and wellbeing. A healthy mouth will prevent bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and will ensure you keep your teeth for as long as possible. Poor oral health has also been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes. To prevent these health risks, it’s important to add flossing to your daily routine today.

Natalie Roberts is a freelance content writer. You can learn more about her through her website.


American Academy of Periodontology – Types of Gum Disease

American Dental Association (ADA) – Floss/Interdental Cleaners

Mayo Clinic – Will taking care of my teeth help prevent heart disease?

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