From early childhood we are taught to brush our teeth. Most of us start and end our day with brushing our teeth to keep our teeth and mouth clean. Some people may carry disposable toothbrushes in order to brush in the office lavatory after lunch. I applaud those who do add this third brushing to their routines. Brushing removes the external food, bacteria and bacterial by-products that may be visible and is the same substance that causes plaque to form below the gums. Brushing the teeth typically only removes plaque above the gum line which is why it is important to employ other methods to remove plaque below the gum line. While a variety of picks and gum line brushes are available, flossing is the gold standard for plaque removal under the gums where the toothbrush cannot reach.
Flossing More Important Than Brushing
In my experience, I have seen flossing fall by the wayside compared to tooth brushing. It is unfortunate because a very large area of the mouth is not cleaned if you are not flossing. Flossing is more important than tooth brushing because the conditions below the gum provide the perfect environment for bacteria to breed and for infection to begin.
When bacterial plaque is left below the gum line and not cleaned away, the accumulation has the potential to cause cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease. It has also been shown that infection in the mouth has the potential to travel systemically to other organs thus increasing the chance of systemic diseases as well.
Just imagine, the dark, warm, moist environment and all the microscopic bits of food, bacteria and bacterial by-products reproducing in the space below the gum line. If you don’t floss, the danger of periodontal disease is inevitable.
Flossing Once A Day Keeps The Bacteria Away
For flossing to be most effective, you should floss at least once a day, once every 24 hours, between all teeth. The type of floss you use is up to you. Some teeth are positioned very close together, so how well the floss fits between your teeth and below the gum line is important. Good flossing technique is the key to reaching the disease-causing bacteria underneath the gums. Ultimately the floss should come into contact with each tooth underneath the gum line. The plaque is actually attached to the tooth structure and by manually rubbing the floss against the tooth, it detaches and allows it to be cleaned away.
New To Flossing?
If you are new to flossing, you may notice that in the first few days or weeks some bleeding may occur. Do not be discouraged or frightened by bleeding, this is simply the body’s way of healing infection or inflammation that is present under the gums. As you adopt flossing into your regular routine you should see a decrease in bleeding from your gum tissue, as well you may notice that your gums appear more pink than red. Pink gums are typically a sign of healthy gums whereas red gums can signal inflammation and infection.
Always remember, floss the teeth you want to keep! Hopefully that’s all of them! Feel free to ask our office how you can adopt good flossing technique into your daily routine!