Floss or No Teeth for You!

Dental Floss
Photo by annieo76

As a kid I rarely flossed. Shamefully, I thought it was a waste of time.  I never had a cavity, so I thought that brushing was good enough.  Then, when I was a teenager, my dentist said that if I wanted to keep my healthy gums and teeth, I had better start flossing.  Otherwise, I would get gingivitis.  That was my wake up call.  I did not want to get gingivitis, which is a form of mild gum disease that causes bleeding, swelling and receding gums.  Not something that you want as a teenage girl, that’s for sure.  Worse yet, if it is not treated, it can lead to periodontitis, which is a more serious form of gum disease that results in loss of teeth.

However, I was not alone in not flossing.  Research shows that less then half of Americans floss daily.  They realize that flossing is very important, but being busy is the number one excuse most people give for not flossing.  That’s a terrible excuse because it doesn’t take that long to floss. You could even do it while watching your favorite late night television show if you wanted to. Just don’t do it if you’re sitting next to me.

Why should I floss?
Flossing is very important if you want to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Actually, it is just as important as brushing and having regular dental checkups.

The goal of brushing and flossing is to prevent a buildup of plaque, which consists of a gummy mesh of saliva and bacteria that adheres to your teeth, especially along the gum line.  Brushing helps remove some of the plaque.  Flossing removes the rest of the plaque that hides in the tiny spaces between your teeth where your brush can’t reach.

Would you take a shower and not wash your upper body to save time?  Of course you wouldn’t.  Not flossing your teeth is similar to that.  You’re leaving a lot uncleaned.

It goes beyond being dirty though.  If you don’t floss, you allow plaque to build up between your teeth and harden into a substance called tartar.  These deposits above and below the gum line can lead to gingivitis.  If gingivitis remains untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.

Periodontitis can ultimately lead to the destruction of the underlying bone and the loss of teeth.  It can also increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.  And it can increase a pregnant woman’s risk of delivering her baby prematurely. So, every step should be taken to prevent this process from occurring and damaging one’s health.

How should I floss?
Here are a few tips for quick and effective flossing.

  1. Use about a foot of floss: Wrap the floss around one finger of each hand.  Hold the floss taut between the thumb and forefinger.
  2. Use a gentle sawing motion: As you go along the side of one tooth, use a gentle sawing motion. When you reach the gum line, gently slide the floss between the tooth and gum.  Then pull the floss out far enough to do the same against the tooth facing it.  Then repeat the process between each pair of teeth.
  3. Floss all your teeth: Don’t forget to floss all your teeth, even the far side of your rearmost teeth.

If you are new to flossing you might experience some mild bleeding of the gums the first few times that you do it.  This isn’t a sign that you’re doing it wrong or that you shouldn’t floss.  Rather, this is a sign that your gums are inflamed and in need of flossing to remove the plaque between your teeth.  Once you have been flossing regularly, the plaque will disappear and you shouldn’t bleed anymore when you floss.

So, take the time to floss daily.  It really is just as important as brushing your teeth.  Just remember, if you don’t take care of your teeth, the bacteria will.  And you will not be happy with the results of their efforts.  So, floss daily and you can smile with pride.  Otherwise, no teeth for you!

Comments (14)

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  1. […] See the original post:  Floss or No Teeth for You! […]

    • Mhc says:

      Oh boy! My mouth is awful. I never developed good mouth health habits. Now that I’m 34, multiple root canals, & cavities then later pulled the same teeth, I’m frustrated. Obviously there is still hope, but I wonder if my heart issues have stemed from my mouth. No, I’m sure of it. I’ve spent a bunch of money on my mouth, avoided the dentist until an emergency, then ended up spending a bunch more on the emergency because I didn’t have good oral hygiene. Busyness & lack of financess have been my excuses. Now I realize the lazyness & stupidity.

  2. Rosy says:

    excellent post! I floss all the time. Even when I’m out, I run in to restroom after dinner. 🙂

  3. THANK YOU for this post! ☺

    Flossing CLEANS those areas you can’t reach with your toothbrush PEOPLE. ♥♥♥

    There’s NOTHING like a freshly flossed mouth…so clean☼

  4. james says:

    Thank you for sharing Talli. I like the way u share info

    thank you

  5. Mark says:

    I floss all the time…even carry some with me. My dentist loves me! Nice post Tali!

  6. Amber says:

    haha I was just reading about the importance of flossing. I too never had a cavity so never really thought a thing about it. I was reading that it’s more important then brushing actually. Thanks for the reminder…i need to get flossing!

  7. Last time I went to the dentist for a checkup, she said I had zero cavities. She said it’s because I’ve been flossing. I never knew it was so important, until my dentist educated me about it. I think most people overlook the benefits of flossing. Let’s hope they all read your blog today.

  8. Maria Isabel says:

    I floss every day because I know how important it is for your overall health. Thanks

  9. feliza brown says:

    I was never into flossing ever since I was a kid, but after reading your blog, I think it’s never too late to start this practice, or I might lose ’em all!

    thanks for sharing this! two thumbs up! 🙂

  10. I finally floss consistently now too. Happy teeth! 🙂

  11. Emily says:

    I highly recommend, for first-time flossers, having your dentist show you how to do it properly. Mine did and I was quite surprised at how high or low the floss can go in the gums!

  12. […] promised here are the links to the floss and chewing gum articles: Floss or No Teeth for You! and Chewing Gum: Want a […]

  13. […] 2008 ← Floss or No Teeth for You! Don’t Worry, Eat Your Fish! […]

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