The importance of flossing

Using dental floss can have extremely beneficial effects Photo: Teeth/wikimedia

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2013 — Everyone is aware that brushing your teeth is important to maintain oral health, and this should be done at least twice a day, with a soft bristle toothbrush.  However, what many people do not include in their oral hygiene routine is flossing.  Using dental floss can have extremely beneficial effects, which you may not be aware of, and many people do not floss their teeth often, or even at all.

Flossing is often thought to simply remove food particles from between the teeth, but it actually does much more than this.  In fact, it helps to remove plaque from between the teeth and under the gums, and also reduces the thin layer of bacteria that is constantly developing on the surface of the teeth. 

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Ever floss your teeth and notice that your gums are bleeding uncontrollably? And does this seem to deter you from flossing ever again? Well, the reason why it is bleeding when you floss or even brush your teeth is because the gum tissue is inflamed and when manipulated, they begin to bleed.

Believe it or not, the more you floss, over time, the less bleeding will occur because the gum tissue will tighten and the inflammation will eventually subside. Inflammation of the gums, redness around the gum line and bleeding when flossing are all indications of gingivitis (an early form of gum disease).

Gingivitis can be stabilized and even reversed as long as there is a good oral hygiene regime established that includes proper brushing, flossing and mouthwash as well as visiting the dentist twice a year.  The removal of plaque from the area around the gums is important in preventing tooth decay and maintaining periodontal health.

Periodontics relates to the structure of the gums, bones and ligaments that hold the teeth in place and provide the necessary support.  Conditions affecting this region of the mouth usually begin as a result of the build-up of plaque and bacteria in areas that cannot be reached effectively with a toothbrush.

Dentist Chair/Wikimedia

Over time, plaque turns to tartar, which can lead to the early stages of gum disease, otherwise known as gingivitis. If not controlled, this ultimately results in mobility and eventual loss of your teeth. Removing the plaque before this occurs is an effective method of preventing gum disease and the tooth loss that would eventually result.

In addition to maintaining the integrity of your teeth and gums, flossing twice a day can have surprising benefits for your overall health.  The bacteria in your mouth, if left unchecked, can cause respiratory infections, heart disease and diabetes.  There is evidence that suggests that the same harmful bacteria that cause periodontal disease are the same bacteria that cause heart issues.

These bacteria have been found in atherosclerotic plaques in the body that can eventually lead to stroke or heart attacks. These conditions affect millions of people across the United States, and the CDC, Center for Disease Control, has recommended that improving oral health is one of the most effective ways to address the growing health problems of the country.  Flossing is one way in which oral health can be dramatically improved.


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Ali Forghani, DDS

My name is Dr Ali Reza Forghani, and I currently run the Modern Smiles Dental Practice in Rockville, Maryland.  I graduated from New York University College of Dentistry, after receiving my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland.  My aim is to provide comprehensive dental care for all of my patients, and I believe that education and the use of modern methods and technologies is the best way to achieve this.


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