Why is flossing so important, exactly? Even if you brush your teeth four times a day, there are some areas that brush bristles simply cannot reach. The areas between the teeth, for example, generally go untouched by standard brushing. These hidden areas require flossing to remove plaque and help clear any food debris that may be stuck there (which could otherwise encourage bacterial growth). Without flossing, areas of your teeth essentially go uncleaned, which could be a risk factor for tooth and gum disease.
The Potentially Serious Repercussions of Not Flossing
If you don’t regularly floss between each of your teeth, small bits of food can become food sources for harmful bacteria that can rot your teeth and cause gum disease. The following are just a few of the possible issues you may be at risk of developing should you regularly fail to floss:
- Bleeding gums due to gingivitis or periodontitis
- Chronic bad breath (as food particles rot)
- Yellow, orange, or brown teeth
- Tooth cavities
- Rotting and loss of teeth
- Build-up of tartar (hardened plaque)
In severe cases, a patient who fails to keep his or her teeth properly cleaned and flossed can lose his or her entire smile, leading to a need for specialized orthodontic care and, ultimately, dentures or implants. Of course, inflamed gums and teeth that are rotten or have developed cavities often cause a great deal of pain.
How to Floss Properly (and Get in the Habit)
The best way to protect your mouth from serious tooth decay, gum disease and pain is to get into a habit of taking care of your teeth right now. No matter how old you are, you never grow out of the need for good oral hygiene!
To floss your teeth properly, get yourself a piece of floss about a foot and a half in length. Wrap the ends around your two middle fingers, then hold a short length of the floss with your thumbs and forefingers as you would normally.
When your grip on the floss is comfortable, gently guide it into the spaces between your teeth without letting it snap harshly against your gums. Make sure to wrap the floss slightly up and around the top of the tooth so that you clean the space beneath the gums. As you move the floss along the sides of your teeth, rub it gently along the surfaces to loosen debris and buildup. When you’re finished, always throw your used floss away—never re-use it!
If you’re a parent, consider turning bedtime and/or morning flossing into a sort of “family event” where you all floss together and practice good technique. Not only will this set a good example for the little ones, it will also help you stay on track with your own oral health.
At Labbe Family Orthodontics, We Care About Your Teeth
Whether you’re a flossing champion or need a little more encouragement, the orthodontic specialists at Labbe Family Orthodontics will be happy to help you take care of your smile. Contact us today to make an appointment with an orthodontist at one of our four Maryland locations.