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Why is flossing so important?

We all know how annoying it is to floss every night, and in some cases even a few times a week. But maybe we would start doing it more often if we understood why it is so important. Many people think that flossing is only for when they feel like they have something stuck between their teeth. But it’s much more important than that. From a simple math point of view, brushing cleans 60% of your tooth surface, and the other 40% can only be cleaned by flossing. If you need more of a reason however, here are some more benefits.

Reasons to floss regularly:

Preventing gum disease One of the most important reasons to floss is the prevention of gum disease. When we chew, food particles mix with your saliva and spread throughout your mouth, including in-between your teeth. This mixture can settle in there and down into your gums and create a breading ground for bacteria. With regular removal of these particles you can prevent that bacteria from settling and causing gum disease. If you have gingivitis or other forms of gum disease then your gum might bleed and be sore when flossing at first, but this will go away within as little as a week with continued care. You can even soak your floss in mouthrises before flossing to help carry it down into your gums.

Preventing Cavities Another result of bacteria settling in-between our teeth is that along with gum disease this can cause cavities. Decay between the teeth can be hard to see and detect early unless we use digital X-rays and Cari-vu. The problem with these types of cavities is that accessing the decay requires removal of healthy tooth structure as well. Although if caught early and the cavity is small enough there is a no drill option to treating these cavities. But no matter the treatment options, the goal is to reduce the risk and clean the areas in between your teeth.

Bad Breath On top of the gum disease and cavities, the bacteria and food particles between your teeth can be a huge result of bad breath. If you ever want to have an idea of how your breath smells, you can take a piece of unflavored floss and floss really well between your upper back teeth and put it under your nose. But be warned though, it may not be very delightful.

Whiten teeth Aside from the gum and tooth issues that bacteria causes between your teeth, the build up of particles can cause your teeth to look darker. Floss does not have any actual “whitening” in it, but the removal of debris between the teeth can make them look whiter. For example, removing dust from a shelf doesn’t actually change the color of the shelf but the color becomes brighter when the dust is removed.

Bridges and Braces Patients with bridges or orthodontics devices can have more trouble trying to floss and may get discouraged, but these areas make it even more necessary to clean as they have an increased risk to harbor bacteria and food. To help patients with areas like this there are special devices and techniques that can be used: superfloss, floss threaders, water piks, airflossers, and many more. Patients who may have a hard time reaching way in the back of their molars can use flossers that have a handle that allows them easier access.  Speak with your dentist or hygienist about helping choose the right one for you. The minimum recommendation for flossing is once a day, typically at night due to the build up of food particles and bacteria throughout the day. But flossing after every meal is encouraged as it helps regularly clean between your teeth. You don’t have to enjoy flossing, but keep in mind the value that a little piece of string can bring you by preventing or treating dental issues.

For more information or a consultation, visit our Escondido, Ca dental office or call 760-747-1811.  Don’t forget to check out our new patient promotions! © 08/2014 by Dr. Christo Mallakis

Dr. Christo Mallakis

I earned my dental degree at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Arizona, a school that concentrated on comprehensive patient care with the newest techniques and materials. While there I was honored with an award from the American College of Prosthodontists. I am passionate about dentistry, and learning is a never ending journey in my career. Staying up to date allows me to provide the best care for my patients and contribute to a more positive perception of dentistry. I have attended countless hours of continuing education, including courses at Spear Education, the most innovative and respected dental education provider in the country. I love educating patients and helping them understand how to improve their oral health. I believe in always having a positive exchange with people and providing my patients with the same quality of dentistry I would give myself and my family. I look forward to seeing you at our office.