When paying a visit to the dentist, without fail you are customarily asked some version of the question, “Have you been flossing regularly?”
If you’re like most people, the answer that follows is typically a “No,” paired with a good-intentioned, but hollow promise to try and do better the next time. This, alas, is the norm attitude a great deal of people have towards flossing. They consider it a burdensome addition to their routine with effects so inconsequential that they feel no shame over excluding it. The truth, however, is that this is not so.
Flossing actually plays a very crucial role in a person’s dental health – acting as the all-important interdental cleaner that a healthy mouth requires. You see, while a toothbrush cleans the tops and outer surfaces of teeth and gums, as an interdental cleaner, flossing is what services the tight spaces that teeth have between each other, and the gums. Flossing not only kills the plaque-forming bacteria that builds up there, it also does what anti-bacterial mouthwash can’t and removes tartar and well-tucked away bits of food.
If you do not floss, bacteria and tiny food particles lodged over time will create plaque that hardens into thickly tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist via scrapers. Moreover, if left untreated, this tartar can cause gingivitis – a red, swollen gum disorder that is the first stage of gum disease – or even periodontitis, which leads to tooth loss.
Overall, flossing is an important part of proper dental care that aids the efforts of regular brushing. “Think of floss and a toothbrush as a detail paintbrush and paint roller, respectively. You could paint your living room walls with just one of the tools, but using them together will provide a much more satisfactory result,” (ADA).
So, next time you go see your dentist, make it a goal to truthfully be able to tell them that you have been flossing regularly. The result won’t just make them happy; the healthy, beautiful smile you achieve from flossing will make you happy too.