In one word…very! Flossing not only cleans areas of your teeth where ordinary toothbrushes can’t reach, it is a key factor in preventing gum disease. Brushing is an excellent beginning, but flossing is a crucial factor when it comes to keeping your teeth healthy. The bacteria that gets caught in the nooks and crannies between teeth and in the tight spaces that toothbrushes can’t reach is removed by flossing.
Bacteria, Oral Care Nemesis
Bacteria, if not removed regularly, may cause a host of problems in your mouth and throughout your body.
For instance, a byproduct of the bacteria is acid; this acid eats into the enamel of otherwise healthy teeth and creates cavities (no one wants cavities). Another byproduct of the bacteria is a sulfur compound which causes halitosis (aka bad breath).
If that’s not bad enough, remnants of food, combined with remaining bacteria turns into a stronger byproduct called plaque. Plaque, left hanging around between the teeth will become an even stronger more toothbrush resistant substance called tarter. Tarter is not removed by normal brushing. Tarter removal requires the professional services of a dentist (now is when it starts to cost financially, dentists are not free).
Tarter left alone allows the bacteria to breed and cause an even more serous condition called gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when the bacteria emits toxins that irritate the gums and causes redness and swelling. If the tarter isn’t removed, it worsens and causes periodontal disease.
|Did you know that periodontal bacteria can enter your blood stream and may begin infections in major organs?Research suggests it can:
Visit the American Academy of Periodontology website for more information.
Periodontal disease occurs when the bacteria have been allowed to manifest and invade not only the gums, but also the bones. This is dangerous because the bones are the very support structure that holds teeth in place. Left untreated, your teeth will fall out.
Your teeth can avoid such a gloomy outcome by flossing regularly.
I haven’t flossed in a while. What should I expect?
If you haven’t flossed in quite a while, there is a possibility that you may see a hint of blood on the floss and in your mouth. This means that your gums are somewhat irritated and are really in need of flossing. Don’t give up. Keep flossing. Over a period of time, with regular flossing and brushing, the red should diminish and eventually go away. If it does not, pay a visit to your dentist.
How often should I floss?
According to the American Dental Association, you should brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once a day.
What about my children? When should they start flossing?
The minute two teeth are able to rub together, thus creating a condition whereby food and bacteria can hide and grow, start flossing. Of course when they are young, they will require parental guidance. Continue to do so until you feel comfortable that your child can properly floss unaided.
How do I floss?
- Use about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger of the other hand.
- Gently guide the floss between your teeth with a rubbing motion.
- Once the floss nears your gum line curve the floss against one tooth in a ‘C’ shape. Slide it gently in the space between you tooth and gum.
- While keeping the floss against the tooth, gently, with an up and down motion, move the floss away from the gum.
- Repeat as needed.
- Remember to floss between all of your teeth, even the hard to reach ones in the back of your mouth. Also floss the back of the last teeth.
- Remember this is a gentle motion. Do not use a frontward, backward sawing motion. That can cause injury and prove to be painful.