A common question asked by your dentist or orthodontist is “How often do you floss?” The truth of the matter is while most people strive to brush their teeth twice a day, many people do not floss as much as they should. So why is flossing so important for a beautiful smile?
A toothbrush can only clean tops and outer surfaces of the teeth and gums. Floss is an interdental cleanerdesigned specifically to clean the tight spaces between the teeth and the gap between the base of the teeth and the gums. These are places that a toothbrush can’t reach. And while antimicrobial mouthwash can kill the bacteria that form plaque, it can’t remove the stubborn tartar and bits of food that can lodge in these places.
And what’s so bad about plaque?
Well it generates acid which can cause cavities, irritate the gums and lead to gum disease. Gum disease eats away at your teeth and gums and can ruin your smile by leaving big gaps between the bottoms of your teeth. People who protect their bone and gum by flossing have a youthful smile for longer.
Some people choose not to floss because they say it makes them bleed. Bleeding can be an indication that your gums are inflamed because of plaque that has built up due to lack of flossing. So it is a bit of an ugly cycle. This plaque needs to be cleaned away. If you experience bleeding for more than a few days it may be time to visit the dentist.
More Reasons to Floss
- Flossing and then brushing is the most effective way to clean your teeth.
- Flossing is essential to protect your gums.
- Flossing can save you money as those who floss tend to have lower dental care costs.
- Flossing can help prevent other diseases including life-threatening systemic diseases. See our previous article Crooked Teeth: A Health Risk.
- Flossing helps prevent the build-up of tartar, that yellow stuff around the gum line which can’t be removed without professional help. This build up is particularly difficult to clean for people with crooked teeth who have not had braces.
Choosing the Right Dental Floss
Dental floss is usually made from nylon or Teflon and both are fine. Those who have bridges or are undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces need to use a floss threader. If you are undergoing orthodontic treatment with invisalign, you will just floss your teeth as usual as you can remove the invisalign aligners before brushing and flossing. We have included a video demonstration on how to floss with braces and without braces.
Whatever floss you choose, just make sure it’s one you will use daily.