Get the Truth Behind Flossing your Teeth

truth behind flossing

San Francisco and Marin CA

As dentists, we understand why many patients don’t floss, even though it only takes a couple of minutes out of their day. But did you know that flossing is the only way to clean between your teeth effectively? Your toothbrush does an excellent job at removing plaque and bacteria from visible surfaces of your teeth, but its bristles cannot reach between your teeth. Therefore, if you’re not flossing, you’re only cleaning two-thirds of the surfaces of your teeth. It’s like taking a shower and only washing two-thirds of your body. Or could you imagine going to your doctor for a wellness checkup and only getting two-thirds of a checkup? Most people wouldn’t settle for these ratios. So today on the blog, our family dentists in Marin share the truth behind flossing your teeth.

Why flossing matters

There are several factors that impact your oral health. Brushing your teeth twice a day and eating a diet that is low in sugar and processed foods, as well as twice-yearly dental checkups and cleanings, are necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums. But there is one other factor that you might be missing – flossing! Flossing removes bacteria, plaque, and food bits from between your teeth, helping reduce bad breath, and your risk of gum disease and cavities from forming in these areas.

What’s the big deal if you don’t floss?

A lot, actually. The effects of not flossing slowly add up over many months and years. Skipping just one night of flossing does not mean that you’ll suddenly experience dental problems. But over time, never flossing or only flossing occasionally leads to gum disease, which half of adults in the U.S. have. Gum disease starts as gingivitis, which is when the gums are red, inflamed, and bleed easily. The good news is that this stage is reversible with good oral hygiene that includes flossing daily. But if ignored, gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, which is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults. Gum disease is a chronic infection that causes chronic bad breath, receding gums, and loose teeth.

Unfortunately, gum disease can have devastating effects on the rest of your health too. Studies report that untreated gum disease increases the risk of heart disease, insulin resistance, and certain types of cancer. How is this possible? It’s because gum disease provokes a chronic inflammatory response in the body, which alters cells, and is the precursor to many devastating diseases. Therefore, flossing not only helps keep your teeth and gums healthy but helps promote better health overall when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

What’s the correct way to floss?

Now that you’re ready to start flossing daily, ensure that you’re flossing correctly for the best outcome. Flossing incorrectly won’t do you any favors. Therefore, avoid popping the floss between your teeth as this could only injure your gums. Instead, start by unraveling about 12-18 inches of floss, wrapping each end around your index fingers on both hands. Using gentle pressure, push the floss between your teeth, rubbing it alongside the edges of each tooth, and in a “C” motion along your gums. Continue this until you’ve flossed between all your teeth. You may need floss threaders or interproximal brushes to reach under dental bridges or if you wear braces. If you are still unsure how to floss correctly, request a demonstration the next time you visit the dentist.

Family Dentists in Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums doesn’t have to be time-consuming and complicated. Once you get used to flossing before bed every night, it will be part of your oral hygiene routine just like brushing your teeth. To learn more ways to protect your oral health or request a flossing demonstration, please call Glen Park Dental at (415) 585-1500.