Is flossing actually important, and how often should we do it? | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 18, 2024

It’s probably safe to say that most are committed to brushing their teeth at least twice a day (though whether most people also reach the recommended two minutes is another story). However, when it comes to flossing, it’s way more common for people to drop the ball.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using interdental cleaners like floss at least once a day to reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

There are several reasons to start flossing regularly, but if you’re still not convinced, here are five key benefits.

Get rid of pesky plaque

Not flossing allows plaque to build up between teeth and along the gum line. Plaque is a colorless film that may not see very easily, but it’s certainly there. It forms on and around your teeth when the bacteria present in your mouth mix with food and drinks that are starchy or sugary. 

Plaque’s main purpose is to release acid that will break down carbohydrates, however, if the plaque isn’t removed then it will also start attacking your tooth enamel. 

Reduce the risk of cavities

On top of getting rid of plaque, flossing also helps you dislodge food particles that could be stuck between your teeth. Letting food particles surround your teeth makes the enamel more prone to developing cavities, which are tiny openings or holes. 

Cavities take a while to develop, but if left untreated can lead to tooth decay.

Help prevent gum disease

Over time, the plaque that’s left behind because of a lack of flossing can harden and become tartar, which makes it even more difficult to clean teeth and can spread below the gum line. This could eventually lead to gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

The first signs of gingivitis are inflammation around your gums and bleeding when you brush or floss. If gingivitis isn’t treated, it progresses to periodontitis, which can cause your gums to recede and pull away from your teeth. 

Periodontitis loosens your teeth, and could, in advanced cases, result in your teeth falling out.

Reduce bad breath

Bad breath is an unpleasant problem to have (and to encounter in others). However, flossing is a great way to get rid of the decaying food trapped between your teeth—one of the main culprits of bad breath.

May help your heart health

The benefits of good dental hygiene may actually extend further than your mouth. According to a large 2019 study, people who maintained a high standard of oral hygiene also had a decreased risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Of course, the boost in heart health is probably not due to oral hygiene alone and is more likely a connection between oral health and the overall health of the body, but regardless, flossing plays a role in ensuring that both oral and overall health is maintained optimally.

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