It’s the dreaded question at every dentist appointment: Have you been flossing?
You know flossing is important, but you just can’t bring yourself to commit to a regular flossing routine. It turns out you’re in good company! According to the ADA, only 16% of Americans floss their teeth at least once a day.
But flossing is incredibly important to your overall oral health and general wellness. Even if you hate flossing, try flossing with one of these three alternatives to keep your smile bright.
You wouldn’t wash only half your face or scrub grime off half of a dirty dish, yet that’s exactly what you do to your teeth when you skip flossing.
Brushing can only remove plaque and debris from the visible surfaces of your teeth. Flossing is critical to scrape bacteria from in between your teeth. Plaque loves to accumulate in those dark crevices, and only the action of flossing can reach into those tight spaces and remove plaque, bacteria, sugar, and acids.
If you’re serious about keeping your mouth as healthy as possible, flossing isn’t optional. It’s the only way to remove plaque from between the teeth. When plaque has the opportunity to accumulate around the teeth and gums, serious problems may occur.
This sticky film of bacteria accumulates everywhere it can, including on your teeth, between your teeth, and below the gum line. Plaque is technically a microbial biofilm that contains a diverse range of bacteria strong enough to resist antimicrobial agents and continue thriving in the dark crevices of the mouth.
If your brushing and flossing habits fail to remove plaque from your teeth and gums on a regular basis, the sticky substance hardens into tartar. This doesn’t take long- even just one day of plaque accumulation can morph into hard tartar crystals as minerals in your saliva combine with the plaque.
Tartar, also known as dental calculus, isn’t sticky or colorless like plaque. It’s a hard, crusty, yellow or brown substance that bonds harshly to your teeth. This makes tartar difficult to remove and highlights the importance of preventing it altogether. There’s no way around it: plaque and tartar both pose serious threats to your teeth, gums, and overall health.
Plaque’s acidic base slowly but surely eats away at your tooth enamel and destroys the healthy structure of your teeth. Cavities offer the first warning sign of plaque damage. While one isolated cavity might not be too bad, the ongoing presence of plaque eventually causes more serious problems like gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease.
If tartar continues to accumulate and your gingivitis is left untreated, it progresses into the more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. More than 64 million American adults have periodontitis defined by the following signs:
The good news, at least, is that flossing is an easy yet powerful way to fight against plaque, reduce tartar, and keep your smile intact.
It’s okay if you hate traditional floss; you’re definitely not alone. Try one of these three flossing alternatives instead to efficiently remove bacteria from between your teeth.
Water flossing offers a simple way to floss without thin floss thread. This type of handheld device removes plaque by spraying streams of water between the teeth. The steady pressure of water directed to the space between each tooth effectively targets food debris, sugar, bacteria, and other substances.
For best results, choose a water flosser with the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal f Acceptance confirms the flosser has been tested to prove its safety and efficacy. Research shows that ADA-approved water flossers reduce the risk of gingivitis.
Not a fan of water flossers? Perhaps interdental brushes will do the trick for you instead. These thin, cone-shaped brushes are designed with wire and bristles, making them easy to insert gently between the teeth.
Interdental brushes are available in many different shapes and sizes, so you can select the type that works best with the alignment of your teeth. You shouldn’t have to force interdental brushes between your teeth; they should fit comfortably between each space to remove plaque buildup.
Many people who favor interdental brushes have difficulty maneuvering normal floss or need to navigate around metal braces.
Tape floss offers another creative solution for people determined to avoid conventional floss. Dental tape is unique because it has a wide, flat surface compared to the thin cord of normal floss. Most tape floss is made of waxed nylon or polythene fiber.
The flat surface of dental tape is easy to pass between the teeth and under the gumline, so it’s just as effective as any other form of flossing. Many people prefer tape floss for its ease-of-use; it rarely snaps or pinches gum tissue.
At the end of the day, the type of floss or floss alternative you choose doesn’t matter any more than whether your toothbrush is blue, red, or purple. What does matter is that you regularly remove plaque from between your teeth in order to prevent complications like cavities, gum inflammation, and gingivitis.
Your family dentist in Encinitas, CA is the best person to ask for flossing guidance and advice. Dr. Gregory Skeens and his team are committed to helping their patients embrace the best oral health through education, prevention, and high-quality care. Call (760) 944-9288 or book an appointment online to get the professional help you need to preserve and protect your smile.
Welcome to the Encinitas dental office of Gregory Skeens, JR., DDS. We are your home for caring dental treatment that supports superior oral health and helps you achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. Our modern facility is equipped with cutting-edge technology and our team is here to make your visit enjoyable and relaxing.
We take a truly individualized approach to dentistry, which is why our practice is so popular. After every treatment, Encinitas dentist Dr. Skeens personally makes follow- up phone calls to patients to ensure that they are feeling well. Your comfort and well-being are of ultimate importance.