Often I am asked questions such as how often I should floss and is flossing really necessary. I am famous for saying “You should only brush and floss the teeth you want to keep!” Brushing and flossing your teeth are the two most important patient activities you can do to ensure good oral health.
The goal of brushing and flossing is to reduce or rid your mouth of harmful bacteria that can adversely affect both your gums and teeth. Microscopic bacteria reside in your mouth calling it home, feeding off the food particles left on our teeth.
Bacteria produce acid from their feasting and this acid eats into your tooth enamel creating cavities. Addition toxins are produced from bacteria in plaque that will inflame and irritate your gum tissue. And finally, without proper care the bacteria can also sulfur compounds that create bad breath.
In the most recent studies, poor oral health can be linked to other related health issues that may stem from oral bacteria entering the bloodstream affecting other internal organs. Regular brushing and flossing removes the plaque and the bacteria plaque contains. Unfortunately, many people think brushing alone is sufficient to rid the mouth of these bacteria. But flossing is a key component to your good oral hygiene program.
If you do not floss and allow plaque to remain in between teeth it eventually hardens into a substance known as tartar. Unlike plaque which can be easily removed by brushing, tartar can only be removed by your dentist.
Over time, failing to floss will result in irritated and inflamed gums. This condition is known as gingivitis, which if left untreated can progress to periodontal disease domino’ing into gingival recession, bone loss, loose teeth, and so on until ultimately your teeth are lost.
Timely and regular flossing removes the bacteria that escapes the reach of the toothbrush. Brushing alone only does part of the job. So you really need to floss. The American Dental Association recommends that you floss at least once a day, but I would suggest once in the morning and once in the evening as the better protocol.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
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