January 23, 2020
When was the last time you flossed? If it was more than even 24 hours ago, that’s far too long. When you go without flossing for just a single day, bacteria in your mouth begin to accumulate between your teeth and along your gumline, which can result in health problems like gum disease. In order to keep these problems at bay, it’s important to floss every day. A dentist is here to talk more about flossing and how important it is.
If You Brush Your Teeth, Do You Really Need to Floss?
Yes! Think of it this way: there are five surfaces on each of your teeth – front, back, chewing surfaces, and two sides. Brushing alone only cleans three out of the five, leaving particles of food and bacteria to accumulate and cause bad breath, among other problems. Plaque and tartar can then build up between your teeth, resulting in discolored teeth, bad breath, and numerous other dental issues.
What Are Plaque and Tartar?
Plaque is a sticky film made of bacteria and bits of food that constantly forms on your teeth. If you have ever run your tongue over your teeth and noticed that they felt a bit fuzzy, that was likely because plaque has built up on the surface of your teeth.
You can get rid of plaque on your own by brushing and flossing, but when you neglect these habits, even for just a day, it hardens into a substance called tartar. Only your dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar. Because of this, it presents more of a danger than plaque. The bacteria present in tartar can irritate the gum tissue and result in a whole host of oral health problems.
What Happens If You Don’t Floss?
When bacteria in tartar irritate the gum tissue, it can cause inflammation characteristic of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms of gingivitis include bleeding when brushing and flossing, red or tender gums, and persistent bad breath that doesn’t respond to your oral hygiene regimen. On the bright side, gingivitis is reversible if you see your dentist soon enough. Unfortunately, if left untreated, it can progress into full-fledged gum disease.
When you have gum disease, bacteria begin to attack the bones and tissues supporting your teeth and keeping them firmly anchored in your gums. Ultimately, this can lead to receding gums, loosened teeth, and even your teeth falling out!
Flossing can prevent all of this from happening, so it’s imperative that you keep up with the habit every day. A good way to remember to do this is to set your floss down on your pillow. That way you can’t go to bed without being reminded to floss. For more tips on how to implement flossing into your daily life, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist!
About the Author
Dr. Nicholas Brong achieved his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California in San Francisco. He also has dental implant training from the University Associates in Dentistry and laser dentistry training from UCSF. His ultimate goal is to help patients achieve and maintain their healthiest smiles, and one way to do that is to floss daily. For more information, you can reach Dr. Brong at (507) 288-1066.
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