A study done by the American Dental Association revealed that only 50% of adults routinely floss their teeth, and 19% do not floss their teeth at all. Flossing teeth, however, is much more important than many people realize, because dental floss can reach where your toothbrush cannot - between your teeth. While brushing your teeth is equally important, you really only clean about 1/3 of the tooth's surface while doing so. Flossing your teeth after brushing allows you to remove food and other debris between your teeth that can lead to plaque accumulation, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Studies have shown a strong statistical link between gum disease and heart disease. Gum disease also leaves you more vulnerable to developing blood borne infections, and those infections can cause inflammatory diseases in other parts of your body as well. Flossing teeth has been proven to help prevent gum disease.
When flossing, it is necessary to go below the gum line where plaque can hide and your toothbrush can't reach. This plaque can build up over time and will eventually lead to both gingivitis and tooth loss. The American Dental Association recommends taking the following steps to properly floss your teeth:
- Start with about 18 inches of floss and wind each end around each of your middle fingers.
- Hold the remaining floss between your thumbs and index fingers and insert it between your teeth.
- Pull the floss against the side of the tooth you are cleaning.
- Rub the floss up and down while keeping it pressed against the tooth.
- Repeat this step for all of your teeth including getting behind your back teeth.
It is equally important for your child to have a teeth flossing routine. In fact, you should start flossing your child's teeth as soon as they have two teeth next to one another. By the time they are ready to take over and do it themselves, flossing their teeth will already be part of their everyday routine. Here are the basics to get them started:
- Use 12 to 18 inches of dental tape or the soft flossing picks.
- Dental tape gets between the larger spaces children have between their teeth.
- Follow the same routine as you do for yourself making sure to get below the gum line.
Routine teeth flossing is a little prevention that's worth a pound of cure.