Why Flossing May Be the Easiest Way to Improve Your Health
Just as we know “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” many of us consider it common knowledge that we’re supposed to floss daily. But only slightly more than 50 percent of adults floss daily, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
Why don’t more people incorporate this habit into our routine? Sure, brushing your teeth is an important piece of the oral health puzzle, but it’s not the full picture. Consider all the spaces between teeth where your toothbrush’s bristles can’t clean and spots along the gumline where food particles can get stuck (and sometimes remain even after brushing). Insufficient cleaning of these troublesome spots can promote plaque, a sometimes pale yellow film on the teeth formed of bacteria, food particles, and mucus that over time can destroy tooth enamel.
Plaque can lead to tooth decay, weakening of the bones below the gums that support your teeth, and gingivitis, which Medline Plus defines as a form of periodontal disease, aka “inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets.” Such infection can cause gums to become swollen and sensitive, too.
All this can be avoided by making flossing a daily practice. The time commitment is minimal, and you can do it when it’s convenient. Don’t have time in the morning rush to floss? No problem, says the ADA. “The most important thing about flossing is to do it,” advises the ADA—whether that’s first thing in the morning, before bedtime, or sometime in between.
The kind of floss you use can make a difference in how often you exercise this good habit. Stroll the oral hygiene aisle of the drugstore or supermarket and you’ll find a wide variety of flosses available, everything from mint-flavored to unwaxed to shred-resistant floss. Chances are there’s at least one you’ll enjoy using. If you’re not sure which type is best for you, ask your dentist about the different products to help you choose.