For many people in the United States, flossing is seen as their dental nemesis. Even if you brush your teeth twice a day as recommended by the American Dental Association, chances are your gums have bled after a dental assistant flosses your teeth at your bi-annual check-up. You've probably been told before that your gums won't bleed if you floss regularly, but is that really true? Here, we'll dive into the real benefits of flossing your teeth and how this hygiene practice can help your gum health.
What are the benefits of flossing?
Millions of bacteria and other germs dwell within your mouth. Even with a consistent oral hygiene plan, there is always the chance of bacteria and microorganisms staying stuck between your teeth. It doesn’t take long for plaque to accumulate on your teeth.
Flossing is a major component to keeping plaque at bay. Plaque naturally builds up on your teeth throughout the day and begins to turn into tartar within 24 to 72 hours. That's why it's recommended to brush your teeth twice a day. However, brushing your teeth doesn't get rid of all of your plaque. After all, your toothbrush can only reach so many places. That's where flossing comes in. Daily flossing will help to remove plaque from between your teeth and prevent tartar formation at the gum line.
Each tooth has five surfaces and your toothbrush is only able to reach three: the front, back, and bottom. Flossing helps to remove 40% of the plaque and bacteria from the sides of your teeth your toothbrush isn't able to reach. Because of this, not only does flossing help to reduce your risk of developing tartar, but it also helps you prevent gingivitis.
Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease where your gums become inflamed and easily bleed. When your gums bleed during brushing or flossing, it's a sign that you need to brush and floss more frequently. When you brush and floss twice a day, your gums will eventually stop becoming easily irritated and bleeding.
Make sure it's not actually your toothbrush that's making your gums irritated. You don't need to scrub your teeth to remove plaque. Use a soft-bristled brush and move your toothbrush in small circular motions around your teeth. Harsh brushing can actually put you at greater risk for cavities because it removes your enamel, so be gentle with your teeth.
Flossing can also help reduce your chance of having bad breath (Halitosis) throughout the day. Food debris trapped in between teeth and in the gumline may contain bacteria that cause an unpleasant odor. Daily flossing can help to remove the smelly odor from your mouth, while keeping your breath fresh and teeth free from unsightly food particles.
How do you properly floss?
Flossing isn't just about pushing and pulling 12 to 18 inches of dental floss between your teeth. There is a process you should follow to properly remove food particles and plaque. To do this, slide the floss between your teeth and create a C-shape with the floss around your tooth. Gently move the floss up and down against the tooth and against your gums to scrape away any plaque. Repeat this process with each of your teeth and make sure to get both sides of the tooth. Make sure that you use your floss on the sides of teeth that don't have neighboring teeth, either, like your very back molars.
Brushing and flossing work very well together to ensure proper oral hygiene. Think of it like only washing the outside of your drinking glass and not the inside. In fact, up to 35% of your teeth’s surfaces still need to be cleaned if you don’t floss. By brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing after every meal, and using a plaque removal dental gel like LIVFRESH Dental Gel, you can help keep plaque at bay and improve your overall dental care.
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