Flossing is one of the most difficult habits to form in your daily life. Many people find it too time-consuming or frustrating, and few understand how important it really is to having great oral health. In this blog, we hope to convince you of the value of flossing by explaining what can happen when you don’t do it.
Not Flossing Leads to Cavities
Flossing is the only effective way of removing dental plaque from the sides of teeth that face neighboring teeth. Your toothbrush bristles cannot reach between two teeth and pull away sticky plaque. When you do not floss, you allow dental plaque to remain in place on the sides of the teeth. Dental plaque contains cavity-causing bacteria, and the longer it “sticks” to the tooth, the more likely it is to lead to decay. The bacteria ingest simple carbohydrates and produce a strong acid as a by-product. This acid softens and weakens tooth enamel, allowing the bacteria to penetrate into the tooth, softening and decaying as it goes.
People who floss daily, consistently removing plaque, have a much lower risk of these between-the-teeth cavities.
Not Flossing Leads to Gum Disease
The dental plaque that sticks between the teeth also leads to gum disease. Bacteria in dental plaque give off toxins that penetrate the surrounding gum tissues. The body’s response to these toxins is inflammation. Acute inflammation (the initial response) will cause redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding. When left untreated, that acute inflammation can transition into chronic inflammation, which is destructive in nature. Chronic gum disease destroys the supporting tissues of the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligaments and jawbone.
When you remove dental plaque on a regular basis by flossing, these toxins don’t build up in the tissues. While you could suffer small bouts of localized inflammation, great oral hygiene will prevent it from developing into full-blown periodontal disease.
Not Flossing Causes Bad Breath
Do you struggle with persistent bad breath? The most likely culprit is bacterial buildup between the teeth. Dental plaque does not smell good. Not only does it contain disease-causing bacteria. It also contains small particles of food. Each spot that you do not floss is like a tiny kitchen trashcan, smelling worse and worse over time.
Not Flossing Leads to More Time in the Dental Chair
When you don’t floss, you typically experience a greater number of dental problems throughout your life. This means you will need more dental treatment, requiring you to spend more time in the dental chair. In addition to the time necessary for dental treatment, not flossing also leads to longer and more uncomfortable professional teeth cleanings. Those who do not floss have more buildup to be removed by the dental hygienist. They also usually have some acute inflammation (gingivitis) present that makes the cleaning “hurt”.
Our patients are happily surprised to learn how quick and easy a professional teeth cleaning becomes after they start flossing regularly.
Not Flossing Leads to More Expensive Dental Treatments
The more dental problems you have, the more money you spend on dental treatments. Both cavities and gum disease worsen over time. The further they progress, the more extensive and the more expensive the necessary treatment becomes. What most people do not realize is that flossing is a vital part of caring for any current dental work. When you have crowns and fillings, you cannot fall prey to the myth that those teeth are healthy and permanently fixed. In fact, teeth with dental work have a higher risk for future dental problems and actually need flossing even more. Each time dental work requires replacement, it becomes a little larger and more expensive.
Flossing actually saves you money! Protect your dental work by doing it every day.
Not Flossing Worsens Health Problems
More and more scientific research is linking dental plaque and chronic gum disease with worsening health problems. These include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show the bacteria from gum disease in arterial plaque and plaques in the brain. When you don’t floss, you allow the bacteria in dental plaque to run rampant. Not flossing actually allows the buildup of more dangerous bacteria than those naturally present on healthy teeth and gums. These are the specific bacteria found in arteries and brains.
If you floss, you reduce the number of dangerous bacteria in your body by stopping them before they start to accumulate. One study shows that flossing increases your life span by about six years!
More Questions about Flossing?
Call Rockland Dental Specialists to schedule a consultation with one of our doctors and dental hygienists. We are flossing experts and love helping people develop this healthy habit.