How Often Should You Really Floss?

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You don’t need to search for a “dentist office near me” on Google to know the importance of a healthy, great-looking smile. At Santa Fe Dental, our doctors provide patients with quality dental care their teeth and gums need to look and feel their best. However, quality dental care alone won’t help patients to prevent common oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Patients also need to practice quality oral hygiene at home if they want to continue having a smile they can confidently show.

While most people make it a habit to brush their teeth at least once or twice a day, the majority of Americans skip out on flossing. Surveys conducted by the American Dental Association have shown that less than 50 percent of adults in the U.S. floss on a daily basis. Unfortunately, that means far more oral health problems and far more searches for a “dentist office near me.”

Let’s take a look flossing, why dentists say you need to do it, and just how often do you need to floss to make a difference to your oral health.

Why Bother Flossing in the First Place?

Flossing ranks as such an important habit because it does things that brushing cannot. Namely, it allows you to clean those hard to reach areas between your teeth and below the gum line. These areas of the mouth account for nearly 33 percent of the total surface area. By not flossing, you allow nearly 1/3rd of your mouth to go uncleaned.

When you fail to floss, you allow harmful oral bacteria to accumulate in the mouth. Plaque, a sticky biofilm comprised of food particles that linger in the mouth after eating and harmful oral bacteria, clings to the surface of your teeth and uses the sugars you consume to produce harmful acids that slowly erode tooth enamel. Given enough time, plaque contributes to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

If you don’t consider flossing important to the long-term health of your teeth, consider this important fact – The most common place in the mouth for cavities to develop is actually between a patient’s teeth, the exact area you clean when flossing.

The Benefits of a Cleaner Mouth

A healthy mouth requires maintaining the right balance of good and bad bacteria. Good bacteria can help with digestion, promotes stronger teeth and gums, and works to prevent disease. Bad bacteria work to destroy tooth enamel and gum tissue.

When harmful bacteria are allowed to accumulate in-between your teeth and below the gum line, it begins to disrupt the balance of bacteria in the mouth. As plaque continues to buildup, your mouth will become far more susceptible to a variety of oral health problems. And since the mouth acts like a gateway to the rest of the body, the more harmful bacteria in the mouth the higher the risk becomes for you to develop a range of chronic health problems.

Studies have shown that individuals dealing with tooth decay and gum disease have a far higher chance for developing such disease as diabetes, hypertension, dementia, and even cancer.

So How Often Should You Floss?

Ideally, patients will floss at least once a day. The best time to floss is at night before bed and before you’ve brushed your teeth. It’s important to floss before brushing, as brushing will help displace any of the substances you dislodge from between your teeth from your mouth.

If you find it more convenient to brush at other times of day, that’s okay. What’s most important is that you floss at all, regardless of when and where. Flossing will keep you from needing to search for a “dentist near me” because you’re experiencing discomfort or problems with your oral health.

If you have any questions about the importance of flossing, what the habit can mean for your oral health, or the best methods for flossing, feel free to ask any member of our team during your next visit to Santa Fe Dental.