Do you need to floss or not?

- November 03, 2017

YOU’VE BEEN HEARING a lot about flossing in the news these days.

Recent articles stating that flossing doesn’t do any good for your oral health have left many patients feeling shocked and confused. As your trusted orthodontist, we’re here to set the record straight!

It all started with an article by the Associated Press stating that the benefits of flossing have been unproven. Unfortunately, haters of flossing were quick to take up their torches and pitchforks against the practice. In response to the Associated Press article, the American Dental Association released a statement saying that flossing is “an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” And we’re going to tell you why.

Here’s Why You Should Continue Flossing

Flossing helps to prevent cavities! Think of all the plaque that is visible on your floss when you're done! That plaque was untouchable by your toothbrush, obviously, or it wouldn't have been left behind after brushing. The area between your teeth is often a place that cavities happen because plaque was allowed to hang out there. Plaque contains bacteria that secrete acids to erode enamel and cause tooth decay. The only effective way to remove that plaque completely is with dental floss. This is especially important during orthodontic treatment as the braces and wires make it even more difficult for your toothbrush to reach in between the teeth. The wire serves as a "road block" to your tooth brush so threading that floss underneath the wire and getting at those surfaces is extra important. The American Dental Association recommends that flossing be done before brushing so that the fluoride contained within toothpaste can reach those surfaces between the teeth once that plaque is removed by floss.

Flossing reduces tartar buildup! Calculus is hardened dental plaque. It is formed by minerals that exist in your saliva and the fluid that hangs out underneath your gingiva (gingival crevicular fluid). Those minerals precipitate out of those fluids and turn that nasty plaque into hard calculus. Calculus then serves as a spot for more plaque to hide around and make the situation even worse. To prevent calculus from forming, all that plaque needs to be removed between the teeth and the only way to reach it is by using dental floss.

Flossing helps to prevent bad breath! Bacteria causes bad breath. Bacteria live in plaque. Flossing removes plaque. It's that simple.

Flossing helps to prevent gum disease! Gingivitis and periodontitis (a more severe form of gum disease) are caused by bacteria that live in plaque. Those bacteria cause redness, swelling and bleeding of your gums. And when that gingivitis is allowed to persist, it can develop into periodontal disease. When a patient gets periodontal disease, the bone that surrounds your teeth starts to disappear. That can result in loosening and loss of teeth.

We Care About Our Patients

We only recommend flossing because we care about your oral and overall health! Through our years of experience, we’ve seen the difference that flossing can make. Braces make it even harder to keep those teeth clean, so it's extra important to floss during orthodontic treatment. So, ignore the headlines and take it from the professionals: flossing works! Keep up the good flossing habits and we promise you’ll feel the difference.