While many people have no problem with brushing twice a day, flossing is often left out of the daily routine. Despite the recommendations from dentists, there are many people who don't make sure to floss regularly. Unfortunately, this can have more serious effects than just a cavity here and there. This article describes the benefits of flossing as well as the potential health risks of skipping this important, task of proper oral hygiene.
The Importance of Flossing
Flossing is essential not just to your dental health, but to your overall health as well. Dentists recommend flossing once a day, either before or after brushing your teeth. Make sure you floss thoroughly in order to remove more plaque from between your teeth. It's important to start early, too. As soon as a baby's teeth start to form, flossing should be introduced. It's especially important to do this regularly if a child's teeth start to come in closer together.
Health Benefits of Flossing
There are numerous benefits of flossing that directly impact your health. While some of these benefits apply to your dental health, others affect your overall health as well. The health benefits of flossing include:
- Remove Plaque: The main purpose of flossing is to remove plaque, which is the film of bacteria which builds up on the surface of the teeth. It's important to remove this substance since it can cause irritation to the gums through the toxins it releases. Eventually, plaque build-up can also cause your gum tissue to break down and increase your risk for gum disease. If plaque hardens on the tooth, it becomes tartar, which has to be removed by a dental hygienist.
- Prevent Gum Disease: As mentioned above, the build-up of plaque on the tooth can increase your risk of gum disease. As the gums continue to be irritated by the plaque, this may develop into a less severe form of gum disease called gingivitis. If you notice that your gums are tender, swollen and red, this may be a sign of gum disease. Another sign of gum disease is bleeding while you brush or floss your teeth. If this happens, continue flossing daily, even though the gums bleed. According to MSN Health, you may be able to cure a minor case of gum disease by doing this. However, if you continue to bleed while flossing after a few days of doing this, make an appointment with your dentist since this may indicate that you have periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease.
- Prevent Cavities: The toxins released from plaque build-up on your teeth may also lead to tooth decay. If the decay progresses too far, it may result in a cavity. Unfortunately, many people do not realize they have tooth decay until a cavity is formed or the tooth becomes infected, which causes a toothache. Flossing regularly can help prevent this tooth decay from occurring.
- Prevent Cardiovascular Disease: Surprisingly, flossing regularly is also closely linked with preventing heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular disease conditions. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people who have periodontal disease are "almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease." Another study found that looking at a person's dental problems, like cavities, gingivitis and missing teeth, were just as capable of predicting whether that person would have heart disease as their cholesterol levels. The reason for this connection is that the plaque build-up in the mouth may cause problems in the bloodstream, which may cause inflammation in the arteries, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Other Benefits of Flossing
There are also several benefits of flossing that, although unrelated to your health, are still important factors in your daily life. Those benefits include:
- Better Smelling Breath: Flossing regularly can significantly improve your breath. That's because you still have some food particles left in your mouth at the end of the day, even after brushing. Flossing removes these particles before they begin to break down and release the sulfurous compounds which lead to bad breath.
- Whiter Teeth: Flossing helps your teeth stay clean and better looking. Additionally, there are even "whitening floss" products available today which are specifically made to help keep your teeth whiter as well. This floss is coated with microscopic abrasive particles that help to remove the build-up of food and other particles in the mouth which gives you teeth a dingier, yellower look. Using a whitening floss daily will help your teeth stay brighter and whiter. Even if you don't use a special whitening floss, you can still have better looking teeth by using any type of floss regularly.