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Simple Secret to Maintaining Healthy Teeth—Flossing

Thu, Jul 25, 2013
Brushing alone does not make your teeth healthy. You need to floss too.
Simple Secret to Maintaining Healthy Teeth—Flossing

Simple Secret to Maintaining Healthy Teeth—Flossing

Flossing is a vital part of dental hygiene and one that unfortunately is often overlooked or underestimated. Dentists everywhere have always emphasized the value of flossing in preventing that insidious dental problem called periodontitis. A great majority of adults lose their teeth because of periodontal or gum problems. Because periodontitis is basically an inflammatory condition, it is also associated with inflammatory conditions in other parts of the body.

There are already published studies which confirm the correlation between gum disease and cardiovascular crises such as heart attack and stroke. Apparently, the inflammation component of gum disease accounts for the inflammation which occurs in the blood vessels of the heart. Establishing and maintaining a good oral regimen is thus important not just in protecting the oral cavity but the whole body in general.

Tooth brushing is not enough

While tooth brushing is universally accepted as a good dental habit, flossing is often just taken for granted. Many people do not understand that flossing should also be done as regularly as tooth brushing. All too often, people are content to floss once in a while, believing that tooth brushing alone can take care of their oral hygiene needs.

While tooth brushing is indeed effective in removing plaque from the surface of the teeth, it does not remove the plaque which lodges in between the teeth. Plaque is the sticky material which is left by food on the surface of our teeth and in between our teeth. When plaque accumulates due to poor dental practices, it leads to tooth decay and gum problems. Dental plaque combines with sugars and starches to create acids which are destructive to the enamel or outer covering of the teeth and irritating to the teeth.

The ultimate results of plaque build-up are tooth decay, gum disease or worse, both. A graver problem occurs when dental plaque is allowed to accumulate in the gums, for then the gums soon become diseased. We know that gum disease is often a precursor of serious heart problems.

Initially, the tissues of the gums simply react to bacteria and acids found in dental plaque by becoming red, swollen and tender. Over time, when plaque is not removed, persistent irritation causes the gums to bleed and eventually recede from the teeth. Recession of the gums creates dental pockets which easily trap food debris and bacteria. These dental pockets soon become infected and in many cases, become filled with pus. The end stage of periodontitis occurs when infection has infiltrated the bones underlying the teeth, resulting in loosening and finally, loss of teeth.

It is when we realize the negative impact of poor dental hygiene on gum health and the serious implications of gum disease on the cardiovascular system that we can begin to seriously examine our dental habits. Do we brush every after meal? Very likely. Do we floss regularly? Probably not. Well, it’s high time we all do. Flossing is easy, painless and takes only few minutes each day.

Here are the best practices in dental flossing.

  1. Try different types of dental floss and choose one you like.
  2. Pull a thread of dental floss to about 18 inches in length and cut.
  3. Wrap one end of the floss around your index or middle finger, depending on which finger is easier to maneuver.
  4. Wrap the other end of the floss around the index or middle finger of your other hand.
  5. Grip the floss securely with your thumb and the finger holding the floss.
  6. Very gently, insert the floss in between your teeth and move the floss carefully back and forth against the tooth. Floss on the side of each tooth and underneath the gum line. Take care not to snap the floss.
  7. Follow this procedure to floss on all spaces of the teeth, both upper and lower teeth.
  8. Floss once daily, preferably in the evening when you are not too rushed to do it.

No longer should you think of dental flossing as an option. It is an essential component of dental hygiene and should be done daily, faithfully. Do it for your teeth and for your overall health.




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