Be honest. Do you floss every day? If the answer is no, you have plenty of company. It’s estimated that only 40% of adults make flossing part of their daily oral hygiene routine. In fact, 20% of adults never floss at all – and those are just the ones who admit it!
Regular flossing combined with brushing is necessary to remove food between your teeth and prevent the formation of a sticky substance called plaque. When plaque and bacteria build up, you risk developing serious problems with your teeth and gums.
Periodontal disease can cause the gums to recede, reducing the protective cushion around the roots of your teeth. Periodontal disease puts you at risk for tooth loss and has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetic complications.
Pairing the practice of tooth brushing with flossing is a win-win. All you need is a sturdy toothbrush and the floss of your choice. Getting started and making flossing a habit is the hardest part. Get in the habit of flossing once a day at night, then add a morning flossing session to your routine to remove any plaque that may have accumulated overnight.
When you do floss, proper technique is key. Avoid sawing back and forth between teeth, as this can damage delicate gum tissue and won’t get at the plaque you’re trying to remove. Use a long string of floss (18” is the recommended length for adults) and wrap the ends around your index fingers. Hold the floss in place with your thumbs.
Gently guide the floss between your teeth, and when you reach the gum line, make a “C” shape against one tooth and slide the floss up and down. Repeat this method for the rest of your mouth – moving to a different part of the floss for each tooth. Moving the floss prevents the reintroduction of bacteria from one tooth to another. Be sure to floss the backside of that last molar too.
Maintaining excellent oral health can keep you in better health overall. Regular checkups and great daily care will save you money in the long run too. It’s much less expensive to take care of your teeth today, than to replace a lost tooth or undergo expensive, sometimes painful treatment for gum disease.
Floss regularly to keep your teeth and gums healthy, your smile bright and your dentist proud.