Taking care of your dental hygiene also means taking care of the space between your teeth. Tooth decay and gum disease sets in when plaque and bacteria buildup along the gum line and between the teeth. One of the most popular ways to clean between your teeth is by flossing.
However, flossing has seen controversy lately. The Associated Press recently questioned the efficacy of flossing by looking at a variety of studies. The AP claimed that all of the studies promoting flossing had weak evidence.
It’s hard to study the effectiveness of flossing, because the research would need to follow people’s daily dental health habits over a huge scope of time. Not to mention, you’d also have to watch the participants floss, making sure they’re flossing correctly every session.
If Michael Phelps quit swimming, ate unhealthily, and didn’t take care of his body, it would still take a long time before you noticed a visible difference in his appearance. It would also take a good bit of time before his unhealthy lifestyle led to diseases, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Gum disease works in a similar way.
Have you ever gone to the dentist after months without flossing only to have your dentist say your dental health looked great? If you have, then you’re probably reluctant to start flossing.
There are a number of reasons why people might get by without seeing the negative side-effects of not flossing.
If you’re already in good health, it takes a long period of dental neglect to develop gum disease. You don’t go from not having gum disease to having gum disease the very next day. It’s a gradual process of bacterial overgrowth that leads to inflammation and disease.
This means you could floss a week before your dental appointment, and your gums probably won’t bleed when they’re cleaned.
If you’re young, brush often and eat a healthy diet, you’re less likely to show signs of gum disease. On the other hand, you’re more likely to develop gum disease if you don’t floss and eat a high-carb and processed food diet. Diabetes and other diseases that compromise your immune system will also lead to a more rapid development of gum disease.
Even if you’re able to get by without flossing and seeing any visible side effects, we recommend getting in the healthy habit of flossing regularly. The key to staying in good health is prevention.
Just as you workout to prevent heart disease and obesity before they set in, you should also floss to beat gum disease. Once you see visible signs of gum disease, like bleeding gums and gum recession, you’re left having to work overtime to fight the disease.
According to a survey by NPR, only 4 out of 10 Americans floss on a daily basis. In another study, they found that about 27% of Americans lie about flossing. Patients are embarrassed to tell the truth about their flossing routine, because they don’t want their dentist to know they’re not taking care of their smile. As dentists, we can usually tell whether you’re flossing or not by the state of your gum health.
There are a few signs that tip us off on flossing fibs:
It’s also not uncommon for kids to give non-verbal signs when they lie about flossing. Most children won’t make eye contact, or they’ll cover their mouths when they stretch the truth about their flossing habits.
If you’ve always gotten by doing the bare minimum with flossing, there are some facts you should know before getting into a full-time flossing habit. For one, don’t be alarmed if you see a little blood. In the beginning, you’ll see a little when you floss, which means the infection is clearing out. While you might see a little blood, you shouldn’t feel pain. Feeling pain from flossing means you’re hitting your gums too aggressively.
Sometimes flossing correctly can be a hassle, especially if you’re using traditional floss. You can get rid off the plaque between your teeth by flossing, or you can try other cleaning apparatuses.
If you have a bigger budget, you can try a WaterPik. This water flossing device is actually proven to be 51% more effective than flossing at reducing gingivitis. WaterPiks use water pressure to gently clean under the gumline without the aspect of accidentally cutting your gumline.
You can also try flosser picks, proxabrushes, or Stim-U-Dent picks. Flosser picks are convenient, because the floss is already strung together, so you don’t have to worry about cutting off your finger circulation from tediously wrapping floss around your middle fingers.
Proxabrushes are skinny brushes that clean between your teeth. These tend to work better when you have larger gaps between your teeth. You’ll have a hard time fitting a proxabrush between tight teeth.
If you’re suffering from gum disease or having a hard time getting in the habit of flossing, Dr. Shah will help you get your dental health in check. We’ll make sure you’re flossing correctly, offer suggestions for flossing, and assess your overall dental health. Contact Dental Smiles at Johns Creek for an appointment today at 770-751-1500.