You know you’re supposed to floss every day, but if you’re like many people, you may let this one aspect of your oral hygiene slip. After all, you brush twice a day and see your dentist every year — what does it matter if you skip the flossing?
We get that question a lot here at OK Tooth. Many of our patients in Midtown Manhattan, New York, live a fast-paced life and opt out of flossing when every minute of their morning routine matters. Others simply don’t see the value in slipping the floss in between their pearly whites unless they need to dislodge something like a strawberry seed or popcorn kernel.
But skipping the flossing has some serious consequences for your oral health. Here, our dental experts explain how flossing can improve the look and health of your teeth and gums.
Flossing prevents gum disease
When bacteria in your mouth turn into a sticky substance called plaque, it coats your teeth and gums. If left there for too long, this bacterial blanket penetrates your teeth and soft tissues, leading to cavities and gum disease.
Brushing takes care of the plaque on the surface areas of your teeth, but only flossing can remove plaque from between your teeth. You may think your teeth are clean and fresh after you brush and rinse in the morning, but if you leave your floss in the drawer, plaque goes to work all day long eroding your dental health.
Flossing protects your heart
Because gum disease causes inflammation and bacteria that may narrow the arteries, there’s a strong correlation between gum disease and heart disease. Studies show that if you have gum disease, you have a 20% higher risk of developing heart problems as well.
Flossing regularly can lower your risk of both conditions.
Flossing prevents tooth decay
Sometimes you feel the unmistakable tightness caused by a piece of food lodged between your teeth, but it happens more often than you may realize without that telltale sensation. When particles of food — especially sticky, sugary, or acidic food — get wedged between your molars, it starts eating away at your enamel. And it doesn’t take long for a cavity to form.
It’s a good idea to keep an emergency supply of dental floss handy in your purse, backpack, or desk drawer so you can get rid of cavity-causing food before it does any damage.
Flossing freshens your smile and your breath
Food caught between the teeth is common fodder for sitcoms and stand-up comedy bits, but when it happens in real life, it’s no laughing matter. A chunk of spinach or other errant food particles can ruin a first impression, a job interview, or a date.
Stuck food bits also cause social problems even when they can’t be seen. Over time, lodged food begins to decay and cause bad breath — another reason to keep up on your flossing routine.
How to floss
Are you ready to up your flossing game? It's a good idea to brush up on the proper technique.
Take a piece of floss that measures about 18 inches or so. Wind the majority of each end around your middle fingers so you have an inch or two available between each hand.
Use your index fingers and thumbs to grab the floss and keep it taut. Gently glide the floss up and down between each pair of teeth, rubbing it along the inner edge of each tooth.
When you reach your gum line, change the angle of your hands so the floss forms around the contours of your tooth in a C shape and carefully guide it between the base of your tooth and your gums.
If you wear braces or any other type of oral appliance, talk to our team about special flossing instructions.
More ways to make your smile sparkle
A solid dental hygiene routine that includes brushing twice and flossing once each day at home as well as having regular professional cleanings can keep your smile bright and healthy. But when you need a little extra help, our team at OK Tooth offers the most advanced cosmetic dentistry treatments to transform your smile.
To schedule an appointment for a professional cleaning or any other dental service, call our friendly staff or request a visit online.