Daily flossing is an essential element of proper dental hygiene. It removes plaque, which can turn into tartar and cause gingivitis and gum disease. Regular cleanings by a dentist or hygienist help reduce tartar build-up. Studies have also shown that flossing even prevents strokes and heart attacks. Treat your teeth to flossing each day to improve your health and smile.
People should floss their teeth at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque that a toothbrush doesn’t reach. Plaque is a sticky layer of material which contains bacteria, causes tooth decay, and can also cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which can then lead to periodontal disease.
Plaque can start forming as soon as four hours after brushing. When plaque is not removed, it eventually hardens and turns into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist.
More dangerous bacteria can start building up in the tartar and producing toxins. The toxins irritate a person’s gums, an inflammation called gingivitis. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, where the toxins invade the bones supporting the teeth. This can lead to bone loss and loose teeth, and even to teeth falling out.
Studies have also indicated that flossing helps to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Periodontitis and even gingivitis are strong risk factors for cardiovascular disease, because of the stress of continuous inflammation in the body. In one study of stroke patients, severe periodontitis was shown to significantly increase the chances of a stroke occurring.
The American Academy of Periodontology states that people with periodontitis are almost twice as likely to have heart disease.
Flossing has cosmetic benefits as well. It stops ugly tartar build-up, and also prevents bad breath. It’s easy to prove how flossing stops bad breath by doing some flossing and smelling the debris that is removed.
Many styles of floss are available – waxed and unwaxed, wide and regular, and there are flavored kinds such as mint and cinnamon. They all work about the same. The one consideration might be to use a wide floss if you have wider spaces between your teeth, but the most important thing is to choose a product and use it daily.
Water-piks are not as effective as floss, because they do not remove plaque.
Floss should be gently rubbed up and down between teeth, and into the spaces between the gums and teeth. The American Dental Association recommends flossing for two or three minutes, and states that even people who floss daily typically do not spend enough time at it.