I just went to the dentist (no cavities! yay!) the other day, and it got me thinking about flossing again. I originally wrote down some thoughts about flossing a few months back, and I decided now would be a good time to write a little blog entry about flossing…
Imagine brushing only some of your teeth? Say you only brushed your front teeth and didn’t brush the back ones. Or how about just brushing the teeth on the left side of your mouth, and leaving those on the right? Disgusting, isn’t it? How often do you floss? If you aren’t flossing, you aren’t really cleaning all of your teeth…
As part of a full tooth-care plan, dentists recommend brushing and flossing daily. Most of us brush every night before bed. And a lot of us even brush when we get up in the morning (although my teeth *should* be clean, I mean I just cleaned them before going to bed. I guess there’s that little thing called ‘morning breath’, but that’s a whole other story…). But how many of us actually floss? Every day? I asked around and found that many of my friends actually do not floss on a daily basis. Some don’t even floss at all! (I’d really like to name names, but then Chris would get mad). Now I’ll admit, I don’t floss every day, but I do like to look after my amazing physique and my health, so I do try to floss as often as I can. On average, I’d say I floss 3 to 4 times a week, which isn’t great, but isn’t that bad, either… Since going to the dentist the other day, I’ve decided to start flossing on a daily basis.
Somewhere while surfing the web, I stumbled across a factoid stating that brushing only effectively cleans about 60% of the tooth above the gumline. Toothbrushes just can’t clean every single little nook and cranny of every tooth. Even those fancy toothbrushes aren’t capable of cleaning out the tiny spaces between every tooth. That’s where flossing comes in. The use of dental floss allows us to clean that extra 40% of the tooth surface where food particles can hide. Thinking about it, if you brush but do not floss, you are only cleaning 60% of your teeth. That means 40% of your teeth are never clean!
I was a little intrigued about the value of 60% given, and I briefly considered doing some more research to see just how much of the tooth is missed when brushing alone. Then I realized how much work that would be, and I just did a little more research. Most of the stuff I saw stated brushing alone will clean 60-75% of your teeth. Even if we are cleaning as much as 75% or even higher, the fact that we are not cleaning a significant portion of our teeth is disconcerting.
Flossing is not a difficult thing to do, but it is very beneficial, primarily that it greatly reduces the chance of developing gum disease. Also, oftentimes tooth decay originates in between teeth, and only flossing will adequately clean these areas. There have also been studies conducted that link poor gum health with heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and infections.
While doing my casual survey among family members and friends, I also asked if they flossed before or after brushing. I have always flossed after brushing, as I assumed you would brush everything out, and then use floss to get in the spaces where the toothbrush can’t. My brother and I always debated about it and after doing some research, I found that it actually is recommended to floss before brushing your teeth. Flossing before brushing seems to help loosen crud from between teeth, so it can be easily brushed away.
So honestly… try to start flossing. Even if you don’t remember to do it every day, do it a few times a week. It doesn’t take too much time, and it’s pretty easy to make it a part of your nightly routine.