Was it not enough that the dentist asked me to brush, and then added night brushing to my daily routine? Now he (dentist) recommends that I should also floss. It’s just so much work! Only if someone could tell me why I should floss!
Dental floss is a thin nylon or synthetic biocompatible thread that helps to remove debris or plaque from the interdental area – the small and inaccessible areas between the teeth.
Interdental areas are generally places where your brush cannot reach, often leading to accumulation of plaque. Brushing is important because it removes dental plaque from above the gumline, whereas flossing removes the plaque from below.
Floss to keep tooth decay at bay
Brushing cannot adequately clean the areas between the teeth and this is the place where most serious dental problems begin. It has been documented that majority of caries, more commonly known as tooth decay, begin in this (interdental) area. But, caries are hidden and cannot be seen on top or exterior surface of the teeth.
Tooth decay becomes visible only when it reaches the nerves (or pulp) or when the discolouration of the area begins. However, these are signs which begin to show at a very advanced stage of decay. Flossing will reduce the chances of accumulation of food, leading to a marked reduction in the percentage of interdental caries.
In addition, flossing is recommended in patients who are undergoing specific forms of dental treatment which could lead to accumulation of food in between the teeth. Moreover, flossing is a must for people with braces fitted for teeth alignment. Patients with crowns (caps) on teeth or those with three unit bridges too should floss in order to retain the prosthesis in good condition.
Importance of flossing
Flossing is important for both children and adults as it removes bacteria and food below the gumline which can cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), periodontitis (inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth) and dental decay. If a child has crowding (the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws), it is imperative to floss daily, as food can get lodged in between.
In most people, the contact point between the teeth is tight and big. In such cases, flossing becomes mandatory, as against the teeth with spacing.
Floss to keep heart diseases away
Furthermore, if left untreated, gum disease can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and high body mass index. The mouth is the entry point for all kinds of harmful bacteria. Dental plaque contains bacteria, which may enter the heart through the blood stream, if you do not get rid of them immediately. These bacteria might lead to heart complications.
Flossing and diabetes
People suffering from diabetes have a weaker immune system. Studies suggest that gum disease can complicate the condition of diabetics. Since they take more time to fight infections and inflammations, oral hygiene including flossing is very important, in order to prevent complications.
Flossing also reduces the chances of Alzheimer’s disease, pancreatic cancer and pneumonia. In addition, bacteria can cause bad breath and having food or debris between your teeth can make them look unclean. Therefore, flossing can not only help improve your dental hygiene, but your overall health.
Hope this reading gives you enough reasons to get over your laziness and floss!
Inputs by Dr Neha Sarda, Cosmetic Dentist
Photograph by sxc.hu
You may also like:
- Getting teeth shaped and whitened
- Brushing your teeth – The right way!
- Aesthetic dentistry – the science of designing the perfect smile