Floss is an interdental cleaner– it’s designed specifically to clean the tight spaces between the teeth and the gap between the base of the teeth and the gums. These are places that a toothbrush can’t reach. And while antimicrobial mouthwash can kill the bacteria that form plaque, it can’t remove the stubborn tartar and bits of food that can lodge in these places [source: American dental Association].
An increasing body of evidence suggests that proper dental care — including regular flossing — can do more than keep your smile pretty and healthy. A healthy mouth can also help prevent much more serious diseases, some of which can be life threatening . But if you’re still not convinced that you should add flossing to your daily routine, her are examples to make the case that flossing is extremely important:
Flossing Prevents Tartar Buildup
Flossing allows you to remove the plaque that causes tartar while it’s in its early form: sticky, but soft and pliable. Since plaque doesn’t harden into tartar until it’s been undisturbed for a period of time, regular flossing can keep buildup from happening.
Flossing Helps Prevent Other Diseases
Tooth and gum disease can have effects that go far beyond discolored teeth, discomfort or bad breath. Extensive research has shown that the bacteria that flourish in an unhealthy mouth can harm the rest of the body, leading to heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illness.
Flossing only takes a few minutes every day, and adds little to the cost of toothpaste, toothbrushes and mouthwash. It’s a small, simple step that can have huge implications for your long-term health.
Flossing Can Save You Money
One of the reasons for the cost savings from regular dental visits, Education that encourages patients to brush and floss daily. Professional dental tools and procedures are highly advanced, and can repair even severe medical problems. But ask any dentist what the most effective, cost-efficient tools are for protecting, and you’re likely to receive a free toothbrush and box of floss.
Flossing Protects Your Gums, Too
Floss can get into the space between the teeth and gums, removing much of the food and plaque that a toothbrush or mouthwash can’t move.
The places where the gums and teeth meet are where flossing plays its major role. Tiny particles of food can get lodged here, and plaque in this area will harden and accrete over time to form tartar, a thick deposit that only the dentist can remove with a scraper. Tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis: red, swollen gums that are the first stage of gum disease. If left unchecked, the bacteria-laden tartar and plaque can spread even deeper below the gum line, causing periodontitis: severe gum disease characterized by severe inflammation and eventual tooth and bone loss.
Flossing and Brushing Are More Effective Than Brushing Alone
A toothbrush works by physically removing plaque — a sticky, bacteria-laden film — from your teeth with its soft bristles. Toothpaste enhances the effect of the toothbrush, and kinds that contain fluoride help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth. But brushing has one big drawback: A toothbrush’s bristles can’t adequately clean between the teeth or under the gums [source: American Dental Association].
That’s where floss comes in. It’s a tool specifically made to remove plaque from the tight spaces between the teeth and under the gums. The research suggests that flossing before you brush also helps make brushing more effective: With less plaque caught between your teeth, the fluoride in toothpaste can get to more parts of your mouth. Think of floss and a toothbrush as a detail paintbrush and paint roller, respectively. You could paint your living room walls with just one of the tools, but using them together will provide a much more satisfactory result [source:American Dental Association].
Proper Flossing Technique
Pull out about 18 inches of floss, wrapping the ends around your fingertips for better control. Gently slide the floss between your teeth, being careful not to jam it into your sensitive gums. Curve the floss around each tooth and rub it up and down to scrape away plaque. Avoid sawing motions with the floss — that can hurt your gums. When you’re done, throw away the used floss. It can fray during use and collect bacteria. Rinse with mouthwash and brush your teeth.
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