We all know that brushing our teeth is an important daily ritual. At the minimum, a thorough brushing in the morning and before bed is necessary to keep teeth strong and healthy. This fact is common knowledge. Now what may be less obvious is the great advantage of flossing between your teeth for two or three minutes before or after brushing. Scientific studies show that this simple added activity has many awesome benefits. Below is a list of what I believe are the five most compelling reasons to floss every day. Stops Tartar Build-up
Plaque is the natural film of food particles and bacteria that accumulates on the surfaces of our teeth. Consistent brushing removes this plaque quite effectively from the front and back surfaces. However, plaque is also found between the teeth and near the gums. Since it is difficult to brush between our teeth, flossing is often required to remove plaque from these hard-to-reach places.
Over time, plaque that is not removed turns into what we dentists call tartar, which is like plaque but much harder and impossible to “brush away.” Flossing is so important because it helps us to remove the plaque that brushing can’t take care of. If we don’t floss, tartar can form between our teeth and near the gums. Many unwanted health consequences come from tartar formation, including irritation of the gums and yellowing of the teeth.Prevents Gum Disease
One of the common side effects of plaque accumulation is gingivitis. This is the first stage of gum disease. Signs of gingivitis include swollen and red gums, bleeding during brushing, and general discomfort. Gingivitis is most often caused by plaque that has been hanging out along the gum line.
As mentioned, flossing stops plaque build-up and therefore tartar formation in the places that are difficult to brush effectively. This makes flossing a very important preventive measure. You’ve also probably heard the term periodontitis. This is the next step in gum disease that comes after gingivitis and involves severe inflammation, tooth loss, and even infections of the jawbone. Once gingivitis occurs, the risk of periodontitis and other periodontal disease rises significantly.Protects Teeth From Decay
Tooth decay is damage to the outer layers of a tooth. Also called cavities, decay occurs when certain types of bacteria use food particles stuck to our teeth for energy. These damaging bacteria produce acid through this process, and that acid wears away tooth enamel. Cavities can only be repaired by a dentist, and if not treated, they may lead to severe pain, infection, and tooth loss.
Without regular flossing, the plaque between our teeth builds up. Remember that plaque contains bacteria, including the types mentioned above that can cause tooth decay. Incorporating flossing between teeth into the daily brushing ritual is therefore a huge help in stopping cavity formation. Preventing cavities prevents everything that goes along with them: pain, discomfort, risk of tooth loss, and expensive treatments.Battles Bad Breath
We all know what it’s like to run into someone with poor oral hygiene habits. It stinks! Many different issues can cause bad breath, but the most common—and treatable—factors are plaque, tartar build-up and cavities. What do all of these have in common? The answer is bacteria. When these bacteria feed on the food particles left in our mouths, some release sulfur compounds that cause the characteristic odor. Flossing makes sure to remove these nasty bacteria from the places that brushing can’t get to. No one should have to suffer from bad breath, especially when it can be prevented for most by spending a total of only two to three minutes per day flossing. Saves Money
It’s no secret that dental work can be time-consuming and expensive, as even we dentists know first-hand. One of the best ways to decrease time and money spent at the dentist is by practicing good oral hygiene. By taking proper care of your mouth and teeth, serious problems are much, much less likely down the road, so the costs of corrective procedures will be minimal.