Most of us have heard about the importance of flossing since we were old enough to hold a toothbrush. Still, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, somehow many of us still neglect to get into the tiny spaces between our teeth and under our gums. In fact, a recent study conducted by CNN found that 37.3% of Americans only floss occasionally (often after a big tub of movie popcorn or a steak dinner) and only about 30% say they flossed in the last week!
With statistics like that, it should come as no surprise that the CDC reports that approximately 47% of adults 30 and older in the United States have periodontal (better known as gum) disease. We’ve heard about the negatives associated with not getting in those tight spaces between your teeth: bad breath, plaque buildup, decay, and an overall dirty mouthfeel. But did you know that those unpleasant impacts can happen fast?! In fact, going just a few days without flossing can bring about plaque buildup on teeth—plaque so thick that only a dental professional can remove it!
And plaque doesn’t just stop at being pesky to remove. When left in place, that plaque can wreak havoc on your mouth, leading to a hardening that becomes tartar. The tartar is a hotbed for bacteria to grow and thrive, eventually creating gum infections that can lead to a peeling back of the gum from the teeth. Often referred to as “recessed gums,” the gums end up lowering down further and further until the teeth can become loosened to the point of losing them.
And if vanity alone isn’t reason for you to begin flossing your teeth, consider this: Bacteria in the plaque and tartar occurring in your mouth can actually show up in the bloodstream where it can then attach itself to the heart’s lining. Heart disease exacerbated by skipping out on that step you weren’t sure mattered all that much? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In fact, other conditions like Alzheimer’s and diabetes are frequently associated with and exacerbated by unchecked plaque and tartar buildup.
You can eliminate bad breath, gum disease, and a host of other serious issues by simply adding regular flossing! And there’s nothing to be intimidated by. It’s as easy as the following four steps:
- Plan to floss after you brush, each time you brush. Note that a habit often takes between 30 to 60 days to stick! Take note of how much cleaner your teeth feel after you’ve flossed. Do it with the specific intent of being healthier overall. And if that doesn’t work, take a look at what you’re removing from those hard-to-reach spaces each time you floss. That’s precisely what you’re missing when you rely on brushing alone.
- Use 18 inches of floss. Wrap each end around the middle fingers of each hand and pull taut.
- Create a C-shape with the floss, allowing the C-shape to follow the shape of the tooth. You should strive to move the floss up and under the gums. Think “up and down” the length of each tooth’s sides rather than a sawing “back and forth” motion.
- Finally, use a clean bit of the floss for each tooth to ensure you’re keeping the strand of floss in peak fighting form to stand up against and eliminate any food particles that have lodged themselves between your teeth.
If you have further questions or need a demonstration of proper flossing techniques, always feel free to ask one of the friendly professionals at Birmingham Orthodontics for more information!
A healthy smile, a fresh mouth, and wellness from the inside out: Flossing is certainly a habit worth getting into!
At Birmingham Orthodontics, our mission is simple: we create smiles. Not only do we straighten the crooked grin, fix the bite, and adjust the jaw, we also brighten yearbooks, help young people come to like their looks, and give adults the confidence they have wanted for a long, long time. We also believe in our staff. Our culture of continuous learning has allowed us to host monthly training sessions for each team and bring in leading industry consultants to help keep us ahead of the curve. Contact us for a free consultation, or any questions you might have.