“UGH, FLOSSING, DO I HAVE TO?”
Good question. Let me first list the benefits of flossing and if your not totally convinced to start flossing, give you alternative methods.
Plaque is the enemy. It is a sticky Biofilm produced by the bacteria in everyone’s mouth. The bacteria feed on food and sugars we eat. If not removed or disrupted within 24 hours, harmful acids are produced (causing tooth decay or cavities) and eventually the plaque hardens and becomes Tartar or Calculus. This can eventually lead to Gingivitis, Periodontal Disease (Bone Loss), and eventual loss of teeth. Only your Dentist or his Dental Hygienist can properly remove the Calculus.
Flossing removes the plaque between your teeth. The bristles of any toothbrush cannot reach these interproximal areas. Not even the Ultrasonic Toothbrushes (Sonicare) can remove all the plaque in these areas. Flossing is the most effective and complete method of removing the plaque and bacteria between your teeth. Flossing should be done a minimum of every 24 hours. Twice a day is even better.
It does not matter if you floss before or after brushing. I prefer flossing prior to brushing because I feel it removes any loose particles better than swishing.
The advantage of flossing is that it can be done anywhere. You can floss while watching TV or reading your Kindle.
Here are the Advantages of Flossing:
- Fresh Breath! The bacteria left between your teeth produce Bad Breath. The longer it sits there, the worse your bad breath gets.
- Helps Prevent Heart Disease and Diabetes. Recent published medical studies have shown that Periodontal Disease contributes to Heart Disease and Diabetes. The bacteria left between your teeth enter the blood stream and attack our major organs. Not Good.
- Lower Dental Bills. Less work, less decay and you keep you natural teeth.
- Keep your great Smile! Your mouth will feel and look better.
Now the Alternative Methods. These are not as effective as Flossing, but if you are a die hard “I hate flossing” person, here are your options:
- Water Pik- These are the pulsating under pressure water devices. Start with a low setting and gradually increase the pressure so you won’t initially hurt your gums.
- Dental Picks- The picks are more efficient and kinder to your gums than wooden tooth picks. There are several different types available. Ask your Dental Hygienist.
- Electric Flossers- Hand held electronic device that uses a dental interproximal point that vibrates and gets between your teeth. Easy to use!
The best advice is to go to your dentist regularly. A minimum of every 6 months or whatever they advise. You should get an Oral Cancer Exam, Dental Exam, and a thorough cleaning. It is an important component of your overall health.
Remember, you don’t have to floss all of your teeth, only the ones you want to keep!
Good Dental Health to you all!
Brian H. Williams DDS, FAGD