Nobody likes flossing. It’s time consuming, it gets your fingers covered in spit, it doesn’t really make your teeth look any different, and no one really thinks it makes a difference. Even the Associated Press calls the effects of flossing “weak, very unreliable.” Odds are, you are one of the millions of Americans that don’t bother regularly flossing.
While the Associated Press calls out flossing as a waste of time, the Journal of Dental Hygiene says differently. Flossing helps reduce gingivitis at one, three, and six months. Regularly flossing doesn’t necessarily make an immediate difference in the look or feel of your teeth, but it is essential in long-term dental health.
What on Earth is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a common and mild form of periodontal disease that causes irritation, redness, and swelling around the gum at the base of your teeth. Most people develop some form of gingivitis as some point in their lives. You’ll notice that your gums are a little more sensitive and prone to bleeding during or after brushing your teeth.
Minor cases of gingivitis tend to cure themselves with a little extra care in your everyday dental health routine, but severe cases of gingivitis cause serious health risks. Untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease.
Is periodontal disease dangerous?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, cementum that covers the root of a tooth, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. These are all essential structures in the overall function of your teeth, mouth, and jaw. Without these healthy structures, you could end up losing your teeth.
While the threat of losing your teeth and the function of your jawbone is substantial enough, recent research has also linked PD with multiple other increased health risks:
- Heart Disease
- Premature Births
- Respiratory Disease
The bacteria that causes PD can travel to your lungs and heart, which causes a myriad of problems, including an increased risk of clogged arteries (which cause the majority of those listed health risks).
How does flossing prevent periodontal disease?
Plaque buildup is the villain at the root of most dental problems. Bacteria and food particles harden into plaque, which hardens into tartar. It’s impossible to prevent plaque from forming or bacteria from finding its way onto your teeth, but regular cleanings from your dentist and healthy dental practices like flossing can prevent plaque from sticking around long enough to cause issues.
Fun fact: brushing your teeth only eliminates about 43% of plaque. A toothbrush can’t clean between your teeth, and plaque left there can easily turn into cavities, gingivitis, etc. quickly.
We understand that flossing is not fun. It’s not interesting. It’s not immediately noticeable. It’s a pain in the rear to take the time to do. When your dentist preaches the importance of flossing regularly, they really are concerned for your overall health.
Here are some tips to help you keep your dental health in check:
- Wax Floss
You need to buy floss that will not shred between your teeth. Wax floss will also make it easier for the floss to slip between teeth.
- Rub Against Each Tooth
Instead of just sticking it between your teeth to get food out, rub the floss against each one of your teeth. This ensures that you are truly getting all the plaque that you can off of your teeth.
- Easy to Use Floss
If normal floss is too difficult to maneuver, don’t worry. Easy to use floss with handles is a really quick and easy way to floss; just make sure that you rub against each tooth as you would with normal floss.
We know that you don’t brush your teeth and floss after every meal, and no one expects you to (unless you have braces or Invisalign-style retainers). Just make sure that you floss every night or at least every other night.