If you’re visiting your dentist at least twice a year, then you’re probably being reminded to keep up with your daily brushing and flossing.
While we can all agree that our dental health is important, a national study by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) found that more than a quarter of adults were dishonest with their dentists about how often they floss their teeth. More than a third of those interviewed stated they would rather do an unpleasant activity, like clean the toilet, than floss daily.
As our lives have been shaken up this year, and we’ve spent more time at home than ever before, hopefully, you’ve added self-care to your daily routine – including flossing more often. If you haven’t, then let the McAllen family dentists at WhiteWing Dental revisit the age-old question: Is flossing really important?
A Healthy Smile Equals a Healthy Life
It’s important to understand why dental health is important in the first place. While a clean smile and fresh breath are great, the true reason dentists recommend frequent oral cleanings is because it leads to better overall health.
When food particles remain on or in-between your teeth, bacteria can grow and turn into plaque. This buildup of bacteria can then lead to cavities or gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, which then leads to periodontal disease. Cavities and gum disease can impair your ability to eat and speak properly, causing pain, bad breath, and a host of other issues.
For instance, periodontal disease is considered to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Bacteria from your gums can enter the bloodstream and internal organs, including the heart and respiratory tract. Periodontal disease is also linked to many chronic diseases, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. Gum infections have also been linked to premature births and low birth weight in pregnant women.
“There’s clearly more work to be done when it comes to educating Americans about the importance of oral hygiene. There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in plaque, and brushing alone does not remove the bacteria that live below the gum line,” says former AAP President Joan Otomo-Corgel, DDS, MPH.
“The good news about periodontal disease is, with proper and timely care, it’s treatable and often reversible.”
What Do the Experts Say About Flossing?
Although studies focused on flossing are incomplete, dental experts explain that the reasons are due to uncontrolled variables. Many patients are dishonest when asked about their flossing habits, which leads to only a small amount of certifiable results.
Also, because flossing is considered a standard of care with health benefits, experts are not able to set up a non-flossing “control” group that could potentially lead to more reliable results.
Still, multiple experts and organizations, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the CDC, the American Dental Association (ADA), and the AAP continue to recommend using dental floss—or another device—to clean between teeth at least once a day. They note that knowing the proper way to brush and floss remain most important.
May the Floss Be With You
The most important takeaway is that flossing SHOULD be a part of your daily oral health care routine. Flossing allows you to remove buildup from between your teeth and underneath your gums. These hard-to-reach spots are where the most destructive microbes live. The McAllen family dentist at WhiteWing Dental encourages our community to remain educated with these flossing tips:
1. What is the correct way to floss?
Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth to your gum line, rather than snapping it into your gums. Then, curve the floss into a “C-shape” against the tooth and move the floss up and down, instead of in sawing motions. Repeat this method on all your teeth, including the back of your last tooth.
2. How often should I floss?
The ADA recommends flossing once a day, but you may find some dental experts recommend at least three to four times a week. You may also do so whenever you feel food stuck between your teeth.
3. When is the best time to floss?
Most people prefer flossing before bedtime to remove the food from that day. Some choose to floss in the morning and others floss after each meal. The bottom line is that the best time to floss is the time that fits well with your individual schedule.
4. What type of floss is best?
If you’re deciding between waxed or unwaxed floss, studies have not shown a difference in effectiveness between the two. Again, how the floss is used is most important. Types of flosses also include floss holders, floss threaders or floss picks.
Smile with WhiteWing Dental
It’s time to add flossing and scheduling your dental check-up to your New Year’s resolution list! Your McAllen dentists at WhiteWing Dental are not only focused on providing superior dentistry services – we want to help you achieve the best oral health and aesthetics possible. Call us at (956) 686-5577 today!