The Dirty Tooth About Flossing vs. Not Flossing

Your family dentist in Chandler, AZ has probably been instructing you to floss for years. If you continue to resist that recommendation, you are not alone. According to WebMD, 36 percent of Americans would prefer to do something unpleasant, such as clean the toilet, than floss. That is why so many dental patients from Maricopa County, AZ applauded when The Associated Press reviewed 25 studies and came to the conclusion that flossing does not have proven benefits.

But not so fast! Several dental experts disagree.

“While the research on the connection between flossing and cavities is hazy, the research on flossing’s role in preventing gum disease is much clearer,” asserted Leena Palomo DDS, an associate professor of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “That is why dentists, hygienists, and periodontists continue to recommend flossing.” What’s more, the terrifying consequences of refusing to floss can cause significant embarrassment, including reduced confidence when smiling.

What’s Inside the Mouth of Someone Who Doesn’t Floss?

To help you understand the risks, we have compiled a list of outcomes that could happen to you, unless you floss regularly.

Here’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the dirty tooth.

1. Tartar Buildup

Unlike plaque, which daily brushing and flossing can address, tartar is a stubborn substance that only a general dentist can remove. Tartar, also called dental calculus, is hardened plaque that traps stains from the food and drinks you consume, as well as from habits like smoking. Tartar can accumulate on your teeth and cause a myriad of smile-damaging problems.

2. Bad Breath

Floss avoidance can cause bad breath because if the food debris stuck between your teeth remains intact, the bacteria will begin feeding on it and cause foul breath. Also, leftover food particles from last week’s dinner are bound to smell repulsive, right?

3. Bleeding Gums

If your gums bleed when brushing or eating, the chances are that you may have gingivitis or periodontitis, both of which are forms of gum disease. Remember, healthy gums do not bleed.

4. Premature Tooth Loss

When gingivitis progresses, it causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets of space for bacteria to thrive and weaken the tooth structure. Eventually, gum disease will lead to premature loss of teeth, among several other dental problems.

5. Increased Risk for Pneumonia

Because your mouth is a direct gateway to your lungs, it makes sense that whatever is wrong with your oral health can affect other areas of your body.

Lauren F. Friedman stated on that “When pathogens lurk in your mouth, you inhale them right into your lungs, where they can wreak all kinds of havoc. One major review pointed to this process as the reason for an association between poor oral hygiene and hospital-acquired pneumonia. Improving oral hygiene — through some methods beyond brushing and flossing in this case — reduced the incidence of such pneumonia by 40 percent.”

6. Discolored Teeth

If you want beautiful, white teeth — neglecting to floss is the wrong way to achieve the pearly whites of your dreams. Again, flossing removes dental plaque and food debris between teeth. As a result, your smile appears cleaner and whiter.

7. Tooth Decay or Cavities

Last but not least, untouched bacteria in your mouth eventually leads to tooth decay. Though common, cavities are dangerous because not only do they require fillings, but they also damage your tooth’s original structure. Once your tooth has a filling, it slowly becomes weaker, steering toward additional dental work down the road.

What About the Mouth of Someone Who Flosses?

Luckily, you won’t need to endure the above consequences if you floss, as well as brush your teeth and make routine visits to your dentist. And, considering the mortifying things that could happen to your mouth if you don’t floss, we can all agree that flossing is worth the extra two minutes of your time each day.

Do Kids Need to Floss Too?

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Flossing should be an essential part of everyone’s oral healthcare routine, including children. Under the approval and direction of a pediatric dentist, your young ones should start flossing at about 2 or 3 years old.

Parents and guardians, here are some helpful tips on teaching kids how to floss.

  1. Choose a soft, flexible dental floss that will not harm your child’s teeth or gums.
  2. Remove approximately 18 inches of floss from the roll, which should be about to the length between your fingertip and elbow.
  3. Wrap the majority of the floss’ length around a finger on one of your child’s hands. Then, wind the remaining length around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger is in charge of collecting the dirty, used floss.
  4. Be sure that your child holds the floss firmly without winding it too tight. If their fingers turn blue or purple, release the dental floss right away.
  5. Show your son or daughter how to glide the floss between their teeth with a gentle, back-and-forth motion.
  6. As the floss gets closer to your child’s gum line, show them how to curve it into a C shape, and then slide it into the area beneath the gum.
  7. When moving to the next space, advance the floss to get a clean portion. Repeat the process with each tooth.

Take note, however, that most children do not develop the ability to floss by themselves until the age of 10. Therefore, never leave your children unattended until you are 110 percent certain that they can floss without guidance.

How Do You Find the Right Dental Floss?

Different members of your household may need or prefer specific types of flossing products. Such needs and preferences will change over time, particularly among children. Kids may start with specialized, non-electric, child-sized floss and then upgrade to a spongy floss or electric flosser that fits around metal braces or other dental hardware. If you are unsure about which type of floss is best for you or a family member, ask us for professional advice.

Kyrene Family Dentistry is a leading provider of high-quality and compassionate dental work, including basic preventative care, general dentistry, and specialized procedures. To make an appointment at our family dentistry practice in Chandler, AZ, call us at 480-705-9005 today.