Recently there have been news reports claiming that the practice of flossing is unnecessary. The reports surfaced after the government’s Dietary Guidelines Committee attacked today’s prevalent intake of added sugar. But both the American Dental Association and the CDC’s division of oral health (NIDC: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research—quite a title!) believe that the practice of flossing is important to the disruption and removal of plaque between the teeth and at the level of the gum line.
Why is flossing important?
Floss helps to clean the spaces between the teeth down to the gum line. These are spaces that a tooth brush can’t reach effectively. Between your teeth there is a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains the bacteria that feed on the leftover sugars in your mouth. If the teeth are not properly cleaned these bacteria can take up residence in the gum line, cause gingivitis, a disease which could later even progress to the much more severe periodontal disease. Also, when bacteria thrive, they produce an acid that can eat away at a tooth’s enamel (the enamel is the hard-outer protective coating on the tooth) and worn away enamel could eventually cause tooth decay—cavities.
How often should I floss my teeth?
Once daily. It’s an important part of your daily oral routine. Brush at least twice and floss once. Make it routine and stick to it. It doesn’t have to become complicated.
Does it matter when I floss?
No. Just make sure you do it in conjunction with brushing your teeth. You can floss first or you can brush first—it’s up to you.
There are several options for materials. Floss comes in a thick tape and a thin comfort style. It also comes in different flavors and types: waxed, non-waxed. You can buy flossing appliances that hold a strand of floss, or you can simply floss by pulling free a strand six to eight inches long and wrapping the strand around opposing fingertips.
Keep in mind that flossing and brushing are only two of the three most important aspects of dental care—the third being a regular dental checkup. You can schedule your next checkup with Dr. Bagby today!