“Are you flossing every day?” – it’s the question that most Australians hope to avoid being asked at their dental appointments. Yet, even knowing that your dentist might ask about your flossing habits is still not enough to motivate many to make flossing a more regular part of their oral care routine. Not only does flossing help keep your gums and teeth healthy, but we now know that there is a significant correlation between flossing and preventing a wide variety of medical conditions from heart disease to poor reproductive health. Here are a few practical, down-to-earth motivating reasons to floss every day. It might even motivate the whole family as well!
1) The Floss Goes Where Toothbrushes Can’t
You might be someone who is very careful about tooth brushing, intentionally scrubbing every side of every tooth with the bristles of your toothbrush. You might even be someone who counts and keeps time, or brushes multiple times a day to ensure every tooth surface remains squeaky-clean. But despite your best efforts, there are places your brush can’t go. In between your teeth, the bacteria that builds up can cause more damage than elsewhere on your teeth. This is because some of the bacteria that is not between your teeth is removed by your tongue, other foods and your saliva. But only by flossing can you remove the food residue, bacteria and plaque that builds up between teeth and along the gumline where your toothbrush can’t. If not flossed away properly, this plaque build-up will eat away at your enamel, causing cavities and gum disease.
2) Prevent Bad Breath Causing Pockets of Plaque
Want to avoid bad breath? Floss is one important tool in your arsenal against stink. It’s true; a comprehensive oral care routine will reward you with fresh breath as flossing away the trapped little bits of food in your mouth prevents bad-breath causing bacteria from finding somewhere to hide and grow between your teeth. Your mouth and breath will be fresher and you will be more confident to face the world each day.
3) Fight Gum Disease & Heart Disease
Studies have found an incredibly strong link between oral health and cardiovascular (heart) health. In fact, those with gum disease have a 20% higher chance of developing heart disease – it’s believed this is caused by an inflammtory response that has the potential to narrow your arteries and blood vessels.
While you can’t directly control the health of your heart with anything but diet and exercise, you can directly control the cleanliness of your teeth. By keeping your teeth flossed and your gums healthy, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease in later life.
4) Control Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels
Are you diabetic? Then you have yet another very good reason to floss every day. People with type-2 diabetes who floss regularly have been found to have an easier time controlling their blood glucose levels. Over time, you may experience improved A1C levels and a more productive glucose metabolism.
5) If You Have a Bun in the Oven
Good oral health has also been closely linked to an infant’s health at birth. If you are expecting or are currently trying to get pregnant, flossing is one of the best things you can do for your baby, in addition to the usual prenatal care. Moms who don’t floss and who suffer from gum disease are also much more likely to give birth to children who are underweight or who are born prematurely. This may be related to inflammation caused by oral bacteria getting into the mother’s bloodstream. So if you have a bun in the oven, this is one critical reason to floss every day and keep your blood and baby healthy!
Make Flossing Every Day your New Habit
If you haven’t been flossing or staying on top of your oral care routine, you might have some gum issues, and so flossing will cause some unpleasant bleeding at first. But if you stick with it, quite quickly, it will make a big difference to your oral health. Ideally, make a habit of flossing before bedtime before you brush. Even 60 seconds of flossing will show benefits.
Floss before brushing, you ask? Yes! Some people get into a routine of brushing then flossing. The problem with this sequence is that any food, plaque, and bacteria released by flossing from in between your teeth remains in your mouth until the next time you brush. However, when you floss and then brush, the brushing action removes these released particles from the mouth. As a result, there’s less dental plaque in your mouth, and you’ll have a lower risk of developing gum disease. The fluoride in your toothpaste is also better able to do its job in protecting your teeth when the plauque and bacteria are removed first.
The trick is to make flossing a habit, just like bathing, exercise and other daily routines. If you’re unsure how to start or want some guidance, ask one of our friendly dentists at The Grove Dental at your next appointment – we will be more than happy to share our best tips for effective flossing.