Hands up if you don’t floss as often as you should?
If your hand is in the air, you’re far from alone! The Australian Dental Association (ADA) claims that as many as 40% of Australians don’t floss or clean between their teeth at all, with countless more failing to floss as often as they should.
It’s no coincidence that the Institute of Health and Welfare found that around 20% of Australians aged 15 and over had gingivitis (early stage gum disease) and 23% were suffering from periodontitis (advanced gum disease).
Is Flossing Really That Important?
In short, yes!
Health Direct describes plaque as a film of bacteria that coats your teeth. If you don’t clean plaque away regularly, it can build up and cause gum disease, as well as tooth decay, bad breath and a host of other oral and systemic health problems.
The ADA explains that nearly half of the surface area of your teeth lies in the spaces between them, where your toothbrush is mostly unable to reach. That means that if you’re only brushing, you’re leaving a significant amount of plaque behind.
How To Floss Effectively
To clean food debris and plaque from between the teeth, you need to floss as well as brush. Here’s how to do it properly, according to Health Direct:
- Wind about 45 cm of floss around your middle fingers and pull it taut between your thumbs and middle fingers.
- Slide the floss gently between your teeth and pull it gently from side to side.
- Run the floss all the way up to the point where the tooth meets the gum, then slide it gently under the gum line.
- Avoid ‘sawing’ into the gums as this can damage them.
Can’t Floss, Won’t Floss.
Despite the importance of flossing, many people are unable to add this very necessary step to their daily dental routine. Reasons include:
- Limited mobility or dexterity.
- Joint disease or injury.
- Large spaces between the teeth.
- Receding gums.
If any of these apply to you, then you might find it easier to use alternatives like floss threaders, floss picks, water flossers or interdental brushes.
Of course, some people simply dislike flossing, perhaps because it’s uncomfortable, fiddly, or time-consuming. However, when you consider that the potential alternatives include bad breath, bleeding gums, and the loss of your teeth, we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s worth making the effort!
If you’re struggling to make flossing a part of your daily dental routine, speak to your dentist. They’ll be able to advise you on the ideal products and techniques for your individual needs so that you can start reaping the benefits of this essential oral health habit.