Maintaining your oral health starts with brushing your teeth twice daily for 2 minutes or more. But as important as brushing is, flossing is just as crucial. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you floss at least once per day.
Flossing takes just a few minutes, but it can make a big difference to the health of your teeth and gums. Unfortunately, about 60 percent of U.S. residents do not floss in accordance with the ADA’s recommendations. Approximately 25 percent of Americans floss only once or twice a year or not at all!
How Flossing Benefits Oral Health
You brush regularly with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and you use a fluoride toothpaste with the ADA seal. Isn’t that enough to keep your teeth and gums clean?
No, honestly, it’s not enough, because no amount of brushing can replace flossing.
Toothbrushes aren’t designed to reach between the teeth like dental floss. Regular flossing removes food particles your toothbrush can’t reach, and stops plaque from building up and hardening into tartar on those hard-to-reach surfaces.
Your Oral Health Is at Risk if You Don’t Floss Regularly
Be honest – how often do you floss? Do you tell your dentist or hygienist the truth about how often you floss?
According to a recent poll by the American Academy of Periodontology, roughly 27 percent of adults admit to lying to their dentists and oral surgeons about flossing. And, many more adults — roughly 36 percent — say they would rather clean a toilet or wash a sink full of dirty dishes than spend time flossing.
Flossing isn’t just about making sure the unseen surfaces of your teeth are clean. Regular use of dental floss also helps prevent cavities and periodontal or gum disease.
Symptoms of these oral health issues include pain, inflammation, receding gums and bad breath. In some cases, advanced gum disease can lead to tooth loss. In addition, periodontal disease has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and other chronic medical conditions.
Flossing Tips to Maintain Good Oral Health
Clearly, flossing regularly is important. But when should you floss — before or after you brush your teeth? It actually doesn’t matter, as long as you are thorough.
Any type of regular dental floss, waxed or unwaxed, will work just fine, so choose whichever variety you prefer. Or try an ADA-approved hand-held flosser or wooden plaque remover.
If you have trouble flossing by hand — or if trying to floss your children’s teeth is an ordeal — you may want to consider a water flosser. Water flossers are handheld devices that pulse water to clean between the teeth. This type of flossing also may be helpful for people with braces, bridges or dental implants.
The bottom line is that the how, the where and the when aren’t all that important … as long as you’re flossing!
For more tips and helpful information on maintaining your oral health, visit the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah website. If you have specific concerns, contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient Salt Lake City area offices. We are dedicated to helping you and your family maintain a lifetime of good oral health.