Many people are all too familiar with being asked, “How often do you floss?” when they go to their regular dental exams. Dentists always recommend that you floss every day, and if you tell your dentist that you don’t, you’ll be told that you should. But is that really necessary? Or is the idea of flossing every day just an ideal and you can actually get away with flossing less than that?
Here’s what you need to know about flossing and how often you actually need to do it.
Why Should You Floss?
The purpose of flossing is to clean where your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth. Your toothbrush can remove a lot of the plaque and bacteria and food particles that get in your mouth, but it can’t get all of it. Flossing cleans away what your toothbrush can’t. If you don’t floss, then that’s part of your mouth that isn’t getting cleaned, and you are allowing plaque and bacteria to build up and create problems.
What Happens If You Don’t Floss?
Dentists can typically tell if you don’t floss. This is because not flossing, as mentioned above, can lead to gum disease. One of the warning signs of gum disease is bleeding gums. Healthy gums don’t bleed, so when you go to your dental cleaning and they floss your teeth and your gums bleed, this tells them that you either don’t floss as much as you should or that there could be another cause leading to the onset of gum disease.
Gum disease starts off reversible, but can develop into a serious issue. Gingivitis, the mild gum disease, can escalate into periodontitis if left untreated. Periodontitis is a serious gum disease that can lead to tooth loss and pits between your teeth, and can require surgery if it gets bad enough.
Luckily, gum disease is reversible, if caught early enough. If you start flossing daily after your dentist points out bleeding gums, you’ll likely notice that your gums stop bleeding as they become healthier. Proper oral hygiene which consists of going to your regular dental exams, brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing can reverse gum disease in its early stages, taking your gums from being swollen and inflamed and bleeding and red to a healthy tight pink again.
Since flossing also works to remove harmful bacterias in your mouth, not flossing can result in cavities between your teeth. This is because the bacteria can eat away at your tooth enamel, which leads to cavities over time.
How Often Should You Floss?
The American Dental Association recommends daily flossing. This is because gum disease can take as little as a day to start. It’s also part of good oral health. It’s important to clean your teeth daily, both flossing and brushing, because if you don’t remove the plaque and bacteria, these can cause cavities. Plaque can also harden into tartar if left long enough, which can then lead to gum disease. Brushing and flossing daily are vital preventative measures against such problems.
What About If You Skip A Day?
Skipping a day of flossing here and there probably won’t cause problems, so if you run out of floss and can’t do it one day or if you go on a short trip and forget it, you don’t need to stress about periodontitis. It’s when you consistently don’t floss that you do. Flossing shouldn’t be a once in a while thing that you do. It is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene.
What About If Flossing Hurts?
If flossing your teeth hurts, this is probably an indication that you aren’t flossing correctly. Your dentist can advise you on proper flossing techniques. One thing to bear in mind when you floss is to make sure that you are using enough, as it is easier and less likely to be painful if you can use a light sawing motion rather than jerking the floss up and down.
There are also some alternatives to traditional floss that you can consider, such as a water flosser, floss threader, or interdental flossing brushes.
So, How Often Do You Need To Floss?
As you can see, your dentists aren’t being overly cautious when they say you should floss daily. Flossing every day is important to keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
Do You Have Questions About Flossing?
Here at Avenues Dentistry, we are happy to answer any questions you may have about flossing as well as provide you with tips if you are struggling to find a technique that works for you. We care about helping you maintain good oral health. If you would like to schedule a dental exam or have any questions, please contact us at Avenues Dentistry today!