In case you forgot to floss today, we’re here to remind you why flossing is so important for you. Welcome to the third chapter of our oral hygiene guide where we talk about the basics of flossing.
Before we get into the details, we’d like to tell you an interesting fact about flossing. According to American Dental Association, only 10% of Americans floss every day. It also shows women floss more than men.
Before further ado, we’d now like to get into the details of flossing and how daily flossing can help you!
What is dental flossing?
We notice that sometimes people are not aware of what is dental flossing exactly.
Flossing is the best preventive oral hygiene measure you can take to clean debris. Unlike brushing, it lets you remove food particles stuck between teeth and under the gums. If you don’t floss, and let this debris stick around for a long time, a sticky film of bacteria called “plaque” forms on your teeth. The extreme stage of this cycle of damage is tartar build-up. Tartar is hardened plaque that leads to multiple dental problems, such as cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.
In short, if you are not flossing, you are allowing the bacteria to grow and cause tooth decay.
Do you know how many people actually floss their teeth?
According to a study, only about 32% of adults aged 30 years and above floss daily. The rest either floss 2-3 days a week or don’t at all. The study also suggests that smokers are less likely to do daily flossing.
An interesting study conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology reveals that 27% of adults in America accept they lie about flossing to their dentists. The study also says that more than a third of Americans (36%) prefer doing an unpleasant activity such as cleaning a toilet rather than flossing.
These stats reveal flossing is clearly an unpopular activity and people do not take it seriously.
Why is flossing important?
It is quite common for people to take daily flossing not so seriously and ask “why is flossing important?”.
Well, let’s say you brush your teeth every day, two times a day, and practice overall good dental hygiene but you never floss your teeth. You’d expect to have no cavities, no tartar, and no gum disease, right? Wrong!
Basically, toothbrushes (regardless of type) can’t reach the tight spaces between your teeth. So if you don’t floss and clean them, the dirt stuck there will l slowly turn into plaque, and can lead to cavities, and even gum diseases.
So, if you put good care into brushing your teeth to avoid diseases, you should be putting just as much effort into flossing. You can’t have the full benefits by just doing one of them.
Is flossing bad for you?
Many people ask the question “is flossing bad for you” because they think it can do more harm than good. There is no denying that flossing is actually incredible for your hygiene and health. However, flossing can be bad for you only if you are doing it the wrong way, or too many times a day.
Excessive flossing or the wrong technique can lead to various dental issues. Thus, the only way flossing can be bad for you is if you are doing it wrong. Now, let’s go through how flossing can benefit you when you do it right!
How does flossing help your oral hygiene: Benefits of Flossing
To say flossing only has one advantage would be an understatement. There are a variety of reasons why this step should be a part of your oral hygiene routine. In a nutshell, it can improve your oral health by leaps and bounds without you even noticing. In case you think it is a trivial habit, here is how it can change your oral health for the better:
- Helps combat bad breath
- Removes bacteria and plaque
- Lesser chances of cavities
- Prevention of periodontitis
- Prevents heart conditions
- Gives you clean and shiny teeth when you smile
Let’s dive into the details!
Helps combat bad breath
Does flossing help bad breath? Yes, it absolutely does. Having bad breath is not just a red flag for your oral health but also for people around you. So, remember those pesky bacteria that cause plaque? They’re also incredibly smelly. They live in your mouth, on your tongue, on your teeth, and even between them. So, if you don’t want to raise any more red flags, start flossing and get rid of that bad breath!
Removes bacteria and plaque from your teeth
Bacteria and plaque formation are the root cause of most dental problems. Any kind of dental problem or gum disease you can think of can happen when you don’t properly get rid of them. Brushing can only get you there 50%, the other 50% is flossing. Flossing will efficiently remove all the bacteria and plaque your toothbrush couldn’t reach, and will save you a lot of toothache in the future.
Lesser chances of developing cavities
Flossing can actually help you prevent getting cavities. We know the drill by now; your mouth has bacteria, which builds up, turns into plaque, which turns into tartar, and erodes your enamel, causing cavities. When you floss, you can clean the bacteria and the plaque before it can get worse. Maybe it’s best to spend those annoying two minutes every day flossing your teeth than suffering through the pain of cavities, or worse, the dentist’s office.
Prevention of periodontitis
Those pesky bacteria and plaque again! This time, they’re along your gum line. We know that our teeth go deep into our gums. Well, unfortunately, bacteria thrive in there too, and that’s not so good for your gums. Luckily, floss can reach your gum line. In order to clean your gum line properly, you must use the correct technique, but you can master it in little to no time and prevent gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
Prevents heart conditions
There are varying views on the connection between oral and cardiovascular health. Some studies show that good oral hygiene practices are essential for a healthy heart. If you neglect oral hygiene, the bacteria growing in your mouth can enter the bloodstream, and reach to your heart. So, if you want to avoid cardiovascular disease, flossing is essential.
Clean and glossy shine when you smile
Does flossing whiten your teeth? Not exactly, but it can help. Now, the only actual product that can whiten teeth is hydrogen peroxide, but flossing can help you maintain the natural brightness of your teeth. Unfortunately, the enamel erosion can make your teeth look yellow. To avoid enamel erosion and maintain a bright smile, floss regularly.
What is dental floss?
Dental floss is the most common tool used to clean between your teeth. Dental floss allows you to reach areas between teeth you can’t reach with a toothbrush. The name is self explanatory; it’s a thin thread that can easily go between teeth. It has a waxy texture, which allows it to be slippery and grippy at the same time. This way, you can easily slide it back and forth, and grip the plaque in hard to reach areas.
Types of dental floss
Now, you know how flossing works, and why it’s so important to take care of your oral hygiene. But before you move on to the next chapter where we talk about how you can floss your teeth, we must talk about floss types.
Most of us are used to using just regular dental floss we find in supermarkets or pharmacies, and they work perfectly for most people. However, those might not work for everyone. And sometimes choosing the right type of tool can be the key to consistency, and developing a habit.
So before you start flossing away, let’s review the different floss types available so you can find the best one for you:
- Waxed dental floss
- Non-waxed dental floss
- Tape floss
- PTFE Floss
- Super floss
- Organic or biodegradable floss
- Water flosser
Waxed flosses are the most common type, and can be found in all supermarkets and pharmacies. It consists of a nylon or polyester thread covered in a thin layer of wax. The synthetic material makes the thread very strong, and hard to break. The layer of wax on top makes it easier to insert and glide between teeth and grips the gunk.
The layer covering the thread can contain various ingredients including petroleum, coconut oil, beeswax, and synthetic fragrance. Most commercial brands use synthetic fragrances in their waxed floss, which might not be the best ingredients for your health in the long run.
You can switch to healthier alternatives that use beeswax, or candelilla wax with no artificial flavors or fragrances if you’d like.
As the name suggests, this type is made of the same materials as the waxed ones (nylon or polyester) but it doesn’t have a wax coating. This unwaxed floss is thinner and easier to use for some people.
Because it’s unwaxed, this type has no flavoring or fragrance, which can make it a safer choice for people who are sensitive to fragrances. However, unwaxed flosses may not be as innocent as they seem.
Some unwaxed flosses are made of Teflon. Yes, the thing that makes your pans non-stick. According to studies, Teflon contains toxins associated with heart disease and cancer, so it’s best to avoid it.
As the name suggests, tape floss looks a lot like tape. It means it is broader and flatter compared to the regular ones. It is much more suitable for people with more space between their teeth because it is gentler on the gums. Dental professionals recommend you use tape floss especially if your gums are sensitive.
Like regular floss, dental tape floss can be made of nylon, polytene fiber, or Teflon. We have just talked about why it’s a good idea to avoid Teflon, so opt for safer materials instead.
Short for PolyTetraFluoroEthylene, PTFE is commonly known as Teflon. It’s the coating that makes your cookware non-stick. It’s a very slippery material, which makes it great for cleaning between teeth. However, Teflon is a controversial material that can have harmful effects on your health, as we have mentioned.
PRFE flosses can look just like other materials like nylon, polyester, or silk. We suggest you avoid this type and make sure that the floss you choose is not made of this material.
Super floss is created particularly for people with braces, retainers, dental bridges, and large gaps between their teeth. When you are wearing braces or bridges it is difficult to clean the lower part of your tooth near the gums. With super floss, you can do it without any hassle.
It comes with a stiff-end floss threader that is super thin. It also has a spongy part that allows you to clean all the stubborn bacteria trapped around the gums. The spongy part can also fill the gaps between your teeth where regular floss can’t.
Organic or biodegradable floss
Organic and biodegradable options are great for people who are trying to lead a more eco-conscious lifestyle. It’s made of natural biodegradable materials such as silk, candelilla wax, beeswax, and coconut oil and contains no synthetic materials or harmful chemicals.
With organic or biodegradable wax, you are not only doing your health a favor but also the planet. Such flosses are free of nylon and other materials that can harm the environment. If you’ll choose one of these options, make sure that it’s suitable for composting!
If you are too lazy to floss, water flossers are your best bet. They are automatic appliances that can clean plaque between teeth and on the gum line. It comes with a device that squirts water at high speed and pressure to clean the dirt around your teeth.
The effectiveness of water flossing is still debatable though because many believe it cannot clean properly. It is best to inquire with your dental professional before you purchase one because they can be a little more on the expensive side.
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Fleming, E. B., Nguyen, D., Afful, J., Carroll, M. D., & Woods, P. D. (2018, August). Prevalence of daily flossing among adults by selected risk factors for periodontal disease-United States, 2011-2014. Journal of Periodontology. Retrieved December 27, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6434526/
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