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Flossing: How Healthy Is It Really?

by Melissa Bell
3 minutes read

Do you floss every day? Many dental patients dread this question. While most people don’t have a problem brushing their teeth after meals, many conveniently forget to floss. It seems like this one-minute task is the last thing many patients want to do.

After hearing about the benefits of flossing for many years, some researchers have begun to wonder if it’s really worth it or not. They believe there is enough evidence to suggest it doesn’t help prevent cavities. However, before you toss out your last roll, here’s why your dentist will still remind you to floss at your next teeth cleaning.


It’s Not About Cavities

While it’s true that research doesn’t show a connection between flossing and cavity prevention, that’s not really the issue at hand. Flossing is actually about keeping your gum tissue healthy. Studies show that nearly half of adult Americans have gum disease. That number is staggering, and dentists believe flossing is one of the best ways to prevent periodontal disease.

The purpose of flossing is to remove plaque from between teeth and at the gum line. These are places that a typical toothbrush can’t easily reach. Regular flossing helps to firm gum tissue and make it stronger. Patients struggling with bad breath also see improvement after implementing a flossing regimen.

Is Flossing Dangerous?

Flossing is actually one of the most beneficial things you can do for your smile. When used alongside brushing and rinsing, it can greatly reduce the risk of developing gum disease. The only thing dangerous about flossing is skipping it.

Why do so many people stop flossing? The first few times you floss, it may not be a pleasant experience. It’s common to experience bleeding and some discomfort. Inflamed gum tissue is softer and more likely to bleed. Over time, these symptoms should fade. You may even notice your gum tissue transform from a dark red color to a healthier bright pink.

The Truth About Gum Disease

Why is gum disease so bad? Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. While genetics are sometimes to blame for gum disease, poor oral hygiene is the more likely culprit. Even those who brush religiously often develop gum disease. Many dentists believe flossing can help prevent it in many cases.

Gum disease is an inflammation of the surrounding tissue. In the early stages, it’s called gingivitis. Improved oral care is the best way to reverse gingivitis. If the condition progresses into full-blown periodontal disease, more extreme treatments are necessary. Your dentist may recommend scaling and root planning to remove all traces of plaque and tartar.

If the thought of losing your teeth isn’t enough to make you floss, the other side effects of gum disease may persuade you even more. Patients with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of stroke and heart attack. There is also a link between gum disease and other conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, and premature birth. Scientists believe bacteria in the mouth enters the bloodstream and attacks various systems of the body. Flossing every day may be enough to reduce your risk.

Never Too Late to Start Flossing

Dentists often tell their patients if they want to keep all their teeth, they need to remember to floss. If you haven’t flossed in the past, it’s never too late to begin. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll see your teeth transform. Your dentist will also notice an improvement in your smile during your next visit.

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