Do I Really Have to Floss Every Day?

Odds are good that you brush your teeth daily -- hopefully, at least twice a day. It's well known that regular brushing prevents tooth decay. However, brushing alone can't reach plaque and food particles trapped between your teeth - for that, you need to floss. Unfortunately, a study conducted by the American Dental Association found that only 4 out of 10 Americans floss daily, and 20 percent never floss. Most dental professionals agree that failing to floss is like playing Russian roulette with your oral health.

Why Is Flossing Beneficial?

Even the highest-tech toothbrush on the market cannot fully penetrate the tight spaces between your teeth. Dental floss can reach and remove particles from the cracks, crevices and recesses. If those particles aren't removed, they turn into plaque, and that can cause cavities, gum disease, bad breath and discoloration of your pearly whites.

Additionally, New York University's College of Dentistry concluded that flossing significantly lowers your risk of developing periodontal disease and cavities. Researchers studied more than 50 sets of twins; instructing one of each pair to floss regularly and the other to forego flossing. After two weeks, gum bleeding dropped by nearly 40 percent for the twins who flossed. Bleeding gums are a warning sign of gingivitis or periodontitis.

How, and How Often, Should You Floss?

When you floss, use a light hand and be thorough yet gentle. Don't force the floss between teeth. Instead, position the floss into a "C" shape against a tooth, then gently slide it into the space between the gum and tooth and move it up and down. Follow that procedure for each side of each tooth. After flossing, rinse your mouth with cool water to remove debris.

In a perfect world, you would floss after every meal to remove food particles from between your teeth, but that's not realistic. You should aim to floss daily. It's inexpensive, simple and doesn't take up much time. If you occasionally miss a day (or more) of flossing, don't panic. But do try your best to keep up with this important preventive maintenance step. Your smile (and your pocketbook) will thank you.

Has it been a while since you've visited the dentist? Take the first step toward protecting your oral health. Contact us at Hintz and Oakley Family Dentistry. We provide caring, experienced dental care for the entire family.

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