“Have you been flossing regularly?”
That dreaded question comes around inevitably each time you visit the dentist. And for many of us, there's a good chance the answer is no.
Estimates suggest that only about half of Canadians floss routinely, and many don't floss at all.
Why don't people floss?
It depends. Some people find flossing awkward; they struggle to move the floss effectively between their teeth, especially at the back of the mouth. This can be especially problematic for those with limited dexterity, or people with braces and other types of corrective hardware.
Others simply find flossing unpleasant or uncomfortable, and some find it flat-out gross.
And then some just don't think flossing is really necessary – and they have good reason to feel this way!
Certain recent studies have raised doubts about the oral health benefits of flossing. Nevertheless, many experts still consider flossing to be an essential component of a thorough and effective oral hygiene routine.
If you're wondering why that is, and whether you should still be flossing, read on.
Yes, you should still floss.
When we eat, food particles can get stuck between our teeth. These particles attract bacteria, which break down to form plaque. Plaque, in turn, can quickly harden into tartar on your teeth, and this can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. Plaque buildup may lead to gingivitis, cavities, and tooth decay.
While brushing your teeth helps to remove food particles and bacteria on the surfaces of your teeth, your toothbrush cannot reach the spaces between the teeth or under the gums. Flossing helps remove food particles, bacteria, and plaque from these spaces.
Routine removal helps prevent plaque from hardening into tartar, and this is the reason dental experts recommend regular brushing and flossing in tandem as a complete at-home oral hygiene routine. In addition, flossing can help prevent bad breath (halitosis). Oral bacteria can cause bad breath, so removing it will naturally help keep your breath a bit fresher.
Our dentists agree with The Canadian Dental Association that flossing with dental floss, an interdental brush, or a water pick at least once a day is a crucial part of an effective dental hygiene routine.
If you're not flossing regularly, start working into your daily routine; your dentist will be thrilled! And in the long term, there's a good chance you will be, too.