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6 Amazing Benefits of Flossing: The Ultimate Guide to Flossing Your Teeth

You’ve likely heard it from your dentist multiple times: You should floss more. But have you ever wondered why flossing is beneficial? Keep reading for a complete breakdown on the benefits of flossing. 

Most people know that flossing is good for you but don’t fully understand the benefits. There are many health benefits of flossing that can help motivate you to floss every day.

Bad breath is often caused by food debris caught in our mouths. The combination of flossing and brushing can remove these pieces of debris, leaving you with better-smelling breath.

Flossing between your teeth helps reach the places your toothbrush can’t. This helps prevent plaque buildup. Plaque is a clear and sticky substance (a microbial biofilm) that forms on and between the teeth. It’s a community of microorganisms that collect on the teeth’s surface. Plaque can grow above and below the gumline. A buildup of plaque can make teeth feel slippery, fuzzy, or rough. 

The microbes that make up plaque make it especially resistant to antimicrobial agents. As plaque builds up, it can give teeth a yellowish appearance. 

Lastly, plaque buildup can lead to health issues. Over time, plaque can eat through the tooth enamel, causing tooth decay and cavities. Tooth decay can lead to tooth abscesses. 

Plaque near the gumline can lead to gum irritation, reddening, swelling, and even gingivitis (a mild gum disease). If gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, which is very painful. Periodontitis often results in bleeding of the gums, infection of the gums, and possible tooth loss. If a person loses enough teeth, chewing food can become painful and difficult. 

Dental plaque that remains on the teeth for several days can harden and calcify. At this point, it turns into a substance known as tartar or calculus, and it will need to be removed by a dentist. 

How does flossing help keep your smile bright and shiny? Foods like soda and coffee can stain the teeth. However, these aren’t the only culprits behind yellow teeth. Plaque buildup can also cause your teeth to have a yellow-stained appearance. Regular flossing can help you achieve a whiter smile by reducing plaque buildup. 

Regular flossing can reduce the risk of gum disease. Gum disease is very common and can happen to anyone. One study that followed US adults from 2009 to 2012 found that around 46 percent of all adults (a total of 64.7 million people) had periodontitis. There are varying degrees of periodontitis, but it’s considered the leading cause of tooth loss. If left untreated, periodontitis can cause gum bleeding, painful abscesses, and gum recession. 

Additionally, periodontitis can have effects on general health, posing an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and pregnancy complications such as premature birth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia. 

Oral health has been linked to overall health. Several studies have examined the link between gum disease and heart disease. People with periodontal disease (gum disease) are almost twice as likely to have chronic heart disease. 

Scientists theorize that bacteria from gum disease enter the bloodstream and attach to fatty deposits. This can create blood clots, which cause strokes and heart attacks, or swelling of the blood vessels. As blood vessels swell and harden, the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, which results in raised blood pressure.

People with poor oral health and existing diabetes seem to have a more difficult time controlling their blood sugar. 

A recent study linked regular flossing with increases in the amount of toxic chemicals in the body. The study followed 178 middle-aged women living in California. These women were measured for levels of 11 different poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals linked to various health conditions such as thyroid disease, decreased fertility, testicular cancer, and high cholesterol. 

The study examined the presence of PFAS in six different types of dental floss. It found that women who flossed with one specific brand had higher levels of PFAS than those who didn’t. It’s important to note that this study also highlighted that other factors, such as living in homes with stain-resistant carpeting, can be responsible for the increased levels of PFAS. 

There are five main types of dental floss.

  • Unwaxed floss is thin floss made up of about 35 nylon strands twisted together. Unwaxed floss can fit into very tight places but is also more prone to breaking.
  • Waxed floss is nylon floss with a light wax coating, making it less likely to break.
  • Dental tape is broad and wide and can come waxed or unwaxed. Generally, people with larger spaces in their teeth may find dental tape more comfortable to use.
  • Polytetrafluorethylene floss is made up of the same material as certain high-tech fabrics. This floss slides easily between teeth and is harder to break. 
  • Some brands sell a floss made of yarn-like material that has stiff sections on each end, making it ideal for cleaning around dental bridges or braces.

When it comes to flossing your teeth, you have to floss correctly to get the full benefits. First, choose a floss that works best for you. Next, take about 18 inches of floss and hold it tightly between your forefingers and thumbs. Place it between the teeth and gently move it back and forth and up and down. When your floss reaches the gumline, curve around one tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth up and down, going below the gumline. Move onto a new clean section of floss and repeat this action for the rest of your teeth. 

Remember to floss both the front and back of your teeth. When finished, rinse your mouth with water. 

Flossing with braces can be tricky. The archwire, which connects all the braces together, prevents you from going all the way down the tooth to the gumline. People with braces need to floss through their teeth through each gap below the wire as well. You can purchase an orthodontic floss threader, which can make flossing with braces much easier. 

People floss their teeth at different times based on preference. Some choose to floss at night, some in the morning, and some people switch up before or after brushing. 

Ideally, you should floss before you brush. Flossing loosens debris and plaque, and following this up with brushing allows you to clean as thoroughly as possible. Additionally, it’s best to floss both in the morning and in the evening. 

Flossing has enormous implications for your oral and overall health. Regular flossing can reduce your risk of heart disease and gum disease and leave you with a beautiful white smile. 


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