Think brushing your teeth twice a day makes for healthy oral hygiene? Well, you’re halfway there. Toothbrushes keep clear, sticky plaque from hardening on the surface of your teeth, but like an iceberg, there’s more to your teeth beneath the surface.
Flossing is the number one way to perform interdental cleaning (getting in between the teeth and gums). However, it is estimated that only 50% of Americans floss at least once a day, which leaves at least another half exposed to dental health risks such as gingivitis or its more serious stage, periodontitis, that causes inflammation around the teeth.
If that’s not enough to persuade you to floss, here are a few more reasons why flossing is a must:
Why You Should be Flossing: The Earlier the Better
Calculus or tartar, the hardened form of plaque, is more prominent as people grow older due to a variety of factors such as hormonal changes starting in puberty or even the make-up of one’s saliva. The CDC estimates that one out of two Americans over 30 has periodontal disease and the statistic jumps to two-thirds for adults over 65. The earlier one starts to make flossing a regular routine, the less chances one will develop periodontitis or tooth decay at a later age.
Why You Should be Flossing: Twenty-four Hours
It takes at least 24 hours for plaque to set on your teeth as tartar, which then requires removal by a dental professional. The best way to combat this build-up is by flossing at least once every 24 hours or even better, every 12 hours. Even 60 seconds of flossing can make a substantial difference!
Why You Should be Flossing: Mouthwash Just isn’t the Same
Swishing around antibacterial mouthwash will not accomplish the same cleaning as flossing. Though it may soften plaque, mouthwash does not scrub it off the surface, giving plaque another chance to harden. Only flossing along the length of the tooth will effectively remove plaque from between the teeth
Why You Should be Flossing: Healthy Gums
If your gums are pink and don’t bleed while brushing/flossing, those are good signs for healthy gums! Unhealthy gums on the other hand are over supplied with blood to fight off infection. Regular flossing will reduce the amount of destructive bacteria, which will lead to little or no bleeding from the gums.
Why You Should be Flossing: Save on Dental Bills
If you’re covered by health insurance, you may have a covered or discounted plan for regular dental check-ups, which are great for removing any recently crystallized plaque. However, when tooth decay calls for further dental work such as cavity fillings or root canals, the bills can accrue to hundreds for both insured and uninsured patients. Flossing is an inexpensive way to keep cavities at bay and your hygienist super impressed.
Dental hygiene is a critical part of maintaining good health and flossing is one of the most important, yet overlooked practices one should perform. By taking a few minutes each day to floss, you will reduce your risks for periodontal diseases as well as other health risks such as heart attack, stroke, and high cholesterol. Gum disease and its complications can be very difficult to reverse, so get started now with a bit of string and diligence!