Only floss the teeth you want to keep…
This is a common saying in the dental world. According to the ADA, 31% of Australians do not floss daily. We have all heard that flossing is important, but most people would just rather skip it.
A good analogy of flossing is washing the dishes. You wouldn’t wash only one side of the dirty dish and then put in back in the cupboard to be used again tomorrow, would you? Brushing alone does not reach all tooth surfaces, and by combining flossing you’re your routine, hard to brush side surfaces are not neglected. This leaves the sides of your teeth and your gum lines to be a good breeding ground for bacteria.
The act of flossing breaks up plaque bacterial biofilm on your teeth. If this bacteria-ridden biofilm is allowed to remain on your teeth, it colonizes and actually changes the chemistry of your mouth, making it possible for “pathogens” to survive. This puts you at risk for developing an infection, and possibly disease of the structures in your mouth that support your teeth. Not flossing leaves you vulnerable to gum infection (gingivitis), which can lead to gum disease (periodontitis) and eventually cause tooth loss.
“I don’t see anything or feel anything different when I don’t floss, so why should I do it?”
The initial signs of gum infection can be easy to miss because there are no pain or visual signs of gum or tooth distress. If you avoid flossing for a few days, you may notice your gums are a bit tender, red and they may bleed when you brush or eventually floss your teeth. Sadly, some people consider this to be normal. But healthy gums aren’t supposed to bleed!
Typically, you won’t notice your teeth are in danger until gum disease is very advanced. When gum disease reaches this stage, teeth may be painful and loose, and reversing the damage can be difficult. In fact, you may be at risk of tooth loss.
The good news is flossing regularly makes sure gum disease doesn’t have a fighting chance! It’s optimal to floss twice a day, but once will keep biofilm at bay.