Having a healthy, vibrant smile is something everyone desires. One way to assist your dentist in making this happen for you is to set yourself up with good oral hygiene practices at home. Regular brushing, flossing, and following a healthy diet are all ways to proactively manage your oral health at home.
Among these steps, flossing is often the most overlooked and underappreciated action we can take to improve the health of our gums and teeth. While most people complain that flossing is unnecessary and tedious, it is an essential part of a good oral hygiene regimen. An estimated third of Americans admit that flossing has never been a part of their oral care process at home, and the consequences of this negligence are found when they visit their dental care providers. Procedures such as fillings, root canals, and crowns, once thought to be extreme measures of restorative care, have now become commonplace as our dental health continues to decline. Taking a few extra minutes each day to add flossing to your regimen can add years to your teeth, maybe even your life. Let’s look at some solid evidence as to why flossing is so important to your overall dental health.
Flossing Is Interdental Care
Flossing takes care of your mouth to the next level; it is specifically designed to clean the tight spaces in between and around teeth and gums. Bacteria and food particles love to lodge themselves in places that regular toothbrushes cannot reach, and this sets the stage for plaque buildup and eventually, decay and breakdown. Removal of these harmful substances leaves your mouth free of matter that can cause these issues.
Brushing and Flossing Is an Effective Cleansing Duo
Brushing your teeth works to remove sticky plaque from the surface of your teeth, but still leaves the sticky substance swirling around in your mouth, looking for another surface to grab ahold of. This sticky bacteria laden substance may lodge itself into soft tissues and areas in between teeth that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. When flossing is added as a step in your oral care, plaque in hard to reach areas is attended to as well, and what was dislodged by your toothbrush is removed with this essential step.
Flossing Prevents Tartar Buildup
Few parts of a dental visit are as uncomfortable for patients as the scraping that a hygienist has to do to remove tartar buildup from teeth. Once hardened tartar has been allowed to form---usually due to bacterial and food particle buildup on the tooth along the gum line, it cannot be removed without professional help. Regular brushing and flossing removes all foreign substances that, over time, harden into tartar.
Flossing Improves the Health of Your Gums
Floss plays a major role where your teeth and gums meet. Gums are the soft tissues that cover the roots of your teeth; protecting these gums is essential in preventing oral decay. This area is especially prone to foreign substance buildup, which as it hardens becomes the substance we know as tartar. Over time, excess tartar buildup along the gum line causes inflammation of this area, known as gingivitis. When this inflammation infects tissues further down into the root structures and jawbone, the stage is set for full blown periodontal disease. Flossing is a preemptive strike against tartar, for removing these foreign particles before they are allowed to fester and harden ensures that the area around the gum line will be kept clean. Healthy gums are a barrier against oral infection, and keeping this area clean will reduce overall mouth sensitivity.
Flossing Saves You Money!
In the age of rising health care costs and declining insurance benefits, we must be proactive in managing our health. Preventative dental care can reduce your oral care costs significantly. Children who visit their dentist before their first birthday have overall dental costs that are forty percent lower than that of their peers who wait longer. Imagine how these small preventative steps can compound that preventative effect over time.
“According to NerdWallet, root canals cost an average of $700 per tooth for a front tooth root canal, and $900 per tooth for a molar root canal while the cost of a roll of dental floss is $2-$4. You’ll be paying one way or another.” - Dr. Gordon E. Krueger
In studying these same populations, families who took a proactive approach to healthcare via doctor checkups tended to do the same with their dental care providers, and their costs were significantly lower than families who relied on emergency room visits as their primary source of reactive care. Emergency dental care and repair procedures can cost up to ten times as much as a number of preventative visits to a dentist. Prioritizing good oral health at home with brushing, flossing, and following a healthy diet is instrumental in keeping care costs down.
Flossing Prevents Other Serious Diseases
Disease in the mouth has long reaching effects to other parts of the body as well. Bacteria that run unchecked in an unhealthy mouth can flourish into other disease such as respiratory disease, diabetes, and even heart disease. Connections between oral health and overall health have become so defined that the Center for Disease Control has now called for a nationwide initiative to educate the public on the importance of maintaining oral health. With heart disease now being the leading cause of death in the US, it is now more important than ever before to implement an oral health regime that includes regular flossing.
In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Research suggests that periodontitis is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease and that people with chronic gum disease have increased thickness of their neck blood vessels. There is also a strong correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from professional teeth cleanings.” (SOURCE: Mayo Clinic; Thomas J. Salinas, D.D.S.)
Proper Techniques for Effective Flossing
Use a piece of floss that is approximately 12 to 15 inches long, and securely wrap around each index finger before inserting between teeth
Insert the floss in between teeth, wrapping around each side in a “c” formation, then gently move the floss up and down in that area
For wider spaces in between teeth, use Dentotape, which is a thicker kind of floss. Those with dexterity issues may use handled flosser for additional support
Look for telltale signs of inflammation---pain, bleeding gums, loose teeth. Alert your dental care professional if these symptoms persist for longer than one week
Establish a regular schedule for brushing, flossing, and overall mouth care. Your whole body will respond in kind!
Dr. Krueger and his team of talented professionals are ready to treat you as a partner in determining your dental health care needs. With their unique combination of innovative dental technology and years of professional experience, your needs will be addressed, your expectations will be exceeded, and your smile will never look better! Consider contacting Dr. Krueger’s talented team for all of your oral health care needs today at (727) 384-6533.