It should come as no surprise to us that many Americans do not include flossing in their daily oral hygiene routine. To be more specific, 32 percent of Americans say they never floss and 37 percent claim they floss, but not on a daily basis. And let’s be honest, how many of us have lied to our dentist and claim, “Yeah, I totally floss everyday” (source).
Despite our dental visits and lectures about the importance of flossing, most patients tend to take it in stride. Maybe keep up with it a day or two after their visit, but ultimately, the task becomes tedious or they may feel it doesn’t make much of a difference.
But I’m here to tell you that flossing may do much more than just lengthen your oral hygiene routine. In fact, here are four reasons you should be flossing EVERYDAY.
Brushing Only Cleans the Surface Area
You may claim you have a pretty vigorous routine when it comes to brushing your teeth. Maybe you count the 72 brushes over your teeth each time, or you have one of those toothbrushes with a timer. I once saw one that plays Lady Gaga while you brush! But either way, you brush your teeth, then that’s fantastic! But, brushing your teeth alone is not enough!
We’re visual people, for sure, so when we see clean white teeth, that’s satisfying enough for us. But the surface area is only part of the tooth. “Gum disease starts between your teeth where a toothbrush can’t clean” (source).
Brushing your teeth takes care of less than half of the plaque on your teeth, which means there’s about 57% of plaque in between your teeth you’re not getting! Which leads to all sorts of gum diseases and tooth decay. Brushing is not enough!
Prevents Gingivitis & Other Gum Diseases
Plaque tends to start at the gum line, especially if you’re not flossing. If you continue to ignore this plaque buildup it hardens and becomes tartar. Not the kind you dip your fish sticks in! As it becomes worse and worse, to the point where you can develop an infection below the gum line where your teeth attaches. This is gingivitis. If left untreated, your tooth can become unstable and you may even lose it. You’re either putting a hole in your wallet or in your smile when you refuse to floss (source).
Save Money on Preventive Care
Besides gingivitis, not flossing can cause a number of issues with your teeth, such as cavities. You’re looking at issues that can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars, such as root canals ($750 – 900), crown canals ($1200), and implants (up to $3,500!). Spending an extra couple of minutes and a couple of dollars on some floss is worth it in the long run. Not only that, even after you get your routines done, you still have to floss! Start now, and your wallet and mouth will thank you (source).
Have a More Pleasant Dental Visit
Let’s hope that as part of your oral hygiene routine, you’re visiting your dentist at least twice a year for your cleaning. It doesn’t have to be so dreaded. In fact, most of the pain and pricking comes from trying to remove hardened plaque and tartar from your gum line. Admittedly, a very sensitive area. And yes, it tends to get bloodier and more painful. But you can actually prevent that from happening with regular flossing. Your dental visit can even be, dare I say, quick and painless if you just spend a couple of minutes every day flossing.
Tips on Flossing
- It’s suggested that you brush twice a day. However, luckily for us, it’s suggested you floss at least once a day. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to floss both times! It doesn’t matter whether you brush or floss first and it doesn’t matter if you choose morning or night. As long as you floss at least once a day.
- When flossing, go around the tooth in a C shape. Slide the floss between your teeth to the gum line and wrap it around the tooth.
- Some people like to use dental picks, unfortunately, it’s not going to be as effective as string floss. This will get between the teeth, but you need to wrap your floss around your teeth. “Dental picks don’t reach the contact point between two teeth where bacteria loves to grow.”
- Go just a little past the gum line, to make sure you reach that bacteria buildup.
- Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth. You need about 18 inches of floss to get through all your teeth.
- It’s your preference regarding what kind of floss to use. Nylon floss tends to shred easily, but is less costly. A little more expensive is PTFE floss, which slides a little easier in tight spaces.
- Some people opt for a waterpik. Unfortunately, this does not have the same effect as flossing. Flossing “wipes” the plaque off teeth while waterpiks “rinse” the areas. However, incorporating both helps tremendously.
- Mouthwash is not the same as flossing, however it is suggested and helps with plaque buildup.
Happy flossing everybody!