Originally published November 8, 2018 as 7 Great Reasons to Floss Every Day
You’ve probably heard your dentist or hygienist regularly recommend that you floss daily. Flossing takes only a few minutes, but for some patients, getting started and then flossing regularly can be a challenge. If you’ve already made it part of your routine, congratulations! But if you need more encouragement, here are eight great reasons to make the effort!
1. Flossing helps prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
Gum disease (called gingivitis in its early stage and periodontitis in its later, more serious stage) begins when plaque, a sticky form of bacteria, builds up on teeth and causes an infection just below the gum line. Many times, patients with early-stage gum disease are unaware of it. When such an infection is left untreated, it can damage the gums and the bone that support the teeth. The teeth will then become loose and fall out, or a dentist may have to extract them.
2. Flossing helps keep your breath fresh.
Each of your teeth has multiple surfaces—the front, the back, the chewing surface (top or bottom), and the sides, most of which are right beside another tooth. Dental floss is the most effective at removing tiny food particles from the sides of the teeth and the spaces between them. Brushing alone doesn’t do the trick. When food particles remain in your mouth, over time they contribute to bacteria growth that leads to bad breath.
3. Flossing helps keep your gums from bleeding.
Patients with gingivitis may notice that their gums have become swollen and that they bleed easily during tooth brushing. When you floss daily and brush two times a day, you can help to reverse this condition if you manage to catch it early enough. Flossing regularly can also help you prevent it from ever beginning.
4. Flossing helps prevent tooth decay.
When you floss, you reduce plaque buildup between and on your teeth. This rids your mouth of acid-producing bacteria, which can lead to sensitive teeth and cavities. The payoff for you? You spend less time in your dentist’s chair getting cavities filled!
5. Regular flossing can help you look younger for longer.
While it helps you guard against gum disease, daily flossing also protects the bones in the lower part of your face and helps to preserve their height. Maintaining your bone structure this way may help you slow the visual effects of aging.
6. If you have diabetes, flossing may make it easier to control your blood sugar.
According to the American Diabetes Association, research suggests a two-way correlation between gum disease and diabetes. Those with diabetes have a higher risk developing of serious gum disease, while in diabetics with gingivitis or periodontitis, the gum disease may make it more difficult to control blood glucose. This is because diabetes makes it more difficult for those with the condition to fight off harmful oral bacteria. So if you have diabetes, spending a few minutes using your floss each day is especially important—and it could even result in your needing less medication.
7. Flossing may even help protect you against pneumonia.
A 2012 study at Yale University School of Medicine in patients who developed pneumonia found a correlation between the illness and increased oral bacteria. Many factors can contribute to disease development, and poor oral hygiene may be one of these. By taking just five minutes every evening to floss your teeth before you brush, you’ll be well on your way to great oral (and overall) health.
8. By flossing to prevent gum disease, you’ll reduce your risk for severe COVID-19.
Gum disease can signal inflammation throughout the body. A COVID-19 infection can also set off an inflammatory response. In 2020, a study of 568 COVID-19 patients compared levels of gum disease in those without COVID complications to those with COVID complications, including ICU admission, the need for assisted ventilation, and death. After adjusting for risk factors including age, diabetes, and smoking habits, the study team found a higher risk of COVID complications in patients with advanced gum disease (periodontitis). We’re committed to helping you reach and maintain good overall health, and this is yet another important reason we encourage you to make flossing a part of your daily routine!
If you’ve never flossed before, here’s a helpful video to help you get started. If you still have questions about your flossing technique or about which kind of floss is right, your hygienist or dentist will be glad to assist when you visit our office. Ask us!