Do You Really Need to Floss?
Many people find that the most tedious and unpleasant part of daily oral hygiene is flossing. A lot of patients ask if flossing is really necessary. The simple fact is that if you don’t floss to remove food particles between your teeth, they aren’t going to go away by themselves without first breaking down and causing the spread of bacteria, and that is very likely to cause gum disease and might even cause you to lose your teeth.
The spaces between your teeth are very narrow, but when you chew your food, tiny particles can fit into those spaces. Even though the food debris is small and you can’t usually see it when it’s trapped between your teeth, it can do tremendous damage. Food particles left behind go through a chemical process that allows bacteria to grow and spread. The bacteria can lead to gum disease, and all the buildup can weaken your teeth and make it hard for fluoride from your toothpaste to reach between the spaces. This can all lead to lost teeth without treatment.
Brushing your teeth removes a lot of food particles and prevents bad bacteria from growing, but special tools are needed to get between the teeth. Dental floss is the best tool you can use, but water flossers and certain types of toothbrushes are also helpful.
A recent report by the Associated Press revealed that the U.S. federal government has removed its recommendation for flossing from its dietary guidelines. This was largely due to the revelation that there is no hard scientific evidence that flossing is beneficial. Despite this, dental professionals say that flossing works, and they base this on their own observations. A dentist writing for the Huffington Post says that flossing is common sense, and points out that some studies indicated that proper flossing is the key to making it work. Some of these studies compared patients who flossed at home with those who had flossing done by dental professionals, with the patients who had professional flossing having better results.
Most dental professionals admit that dental floss is not perfect and cannot remove everything that could potentially be harmful. But compared to not flossing at all, flossing removes much of the debris that could lead to gum disease, cavities and tooth loss. Dental checkups are equally important because they allow the dentist to catch problems early when they are easier to correct.
At Alabama Family Dentistry, we recommend flossing, but we understand that some people have physical or psychological challenges that affect their ability to floss properly. For them, we recommend using another tool, like a water flosser.
If you would like to learn more about why flossing is important, how to floss properly or why dental professionals believe in flossing, give Alabama Family Dentistry a call. We have four convenient locations in the Birmingham area to serve you.