How important is it to floss?
For decades, dental hygienists and healthcare professionals have insisted on the importance of regular flossing to maintain optimal oral hygiene; but is it really that important to floss?
A series of new studies suggested that dental flossing does not add any additional benefits in terms of health and wellness. For example, latest updates by Associated Press, claimed that flossing does not significantly affect oral health. However, study reported by Journal of Dental Hygiene, suggested that flossing helps in reducing the risk of gingivitis at 1, 3 and 6 months.
In this blogpost, we are going to evaluate peer reviewed research studies to see if flossing is useful or just one extra step that is not even relevant.
Dental Flossing and Oral Hygiene:
We all understand the value of brushing our teeth; but while brushing, you only clean front and back of your teeth; leaving behind food particles and residues between the teeth, along the gum pockets on the sides of teeth. Without flossing, these gum pockets and teeth borders becomes the breeding ground for harmful bacteria that increases the risk of a number of diseases.
Another core benefit of flossing is to prevent deposition of plaque by breaking the biofilm. There has been a number of studies that explains how plaque deposition and bacterial biofilms changes the oral chemistry and makes you vulnerable to develop serious oral issues like gingivitis (inflammation of gums) and periodontal disease that can eventually lead to tooth loss.
What happens if you don’t floss?
Since gum disease does not present with alarming signs and symptoms, a lot of people tend to miss out early signs and symptoms suggestive of gum disease. Discontinuing flossing does not cause serious complications right away, but if you notice closely, discontinuation of flossing can present with
- Tenderness or swelling of gums
- Increased bleeding tendency of gums to minimal pressure or trauma such as during brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
Regardless of numerous benefits of flossing, about 1/3 of US population has never flossed their teeth.
How to properly floss your teeth?
Here are some tips to learn how to properly floss your teeth
- Cut out a least 18inch string of dental floss
- Use the 2 middle fingers of your right and left hand to wrap the floss for stronger grip.
- Keep the distance between the index fingers as minimal as possible
- Keep the floss a taught as possible. It increases control
- Make sure you wrap the floss tightly around the side of the tooth that is being cleaned
- You gently go below gum without cutting it and with hard pressure pull up
- Use index finger and thumb to apply rubbing up and down motion between the teeth
- Do this motion 4 -5 times until the floss skids on the tooth surface and makes a sqeaky sound
- Then wrap the floss around the other tooth and repeat the motions
- Make sure to floss all your teeth, especially the ones at the back that are at much higher risk of developing the gum disease
Here are some additional tips to get maximum benefit from dental flossing:
- Choose your dental floss according to contact tightness between your teeth. and type of dental restoration in your mouth
- Use disposable flossers for better hygiene
There are a number of options available in the market; such as teflon floss, sonicare floss, waxed floss,etc.
Please call and schedule an appointment with Dr. Toubia to learn more about different flossing options to see which option is best for you considering your natural anatomy and existing oral health.