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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac
2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

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Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe

Why Should You Floss Every Day?

Practicing good oral health not only means brushing your teeth twice daily but also flossing your teeth at least once a day. Many people don’t fully understand the importance of flossing, but this healthy habit can remove plaque and bacteria in places that are hard to reach with a toothbrush, such as under your gums and between your teeth. Keep reading to learn more about creating long-term healthy smiles by simply flossing your teeth.

Flossing every day is an essential component of preventive dental care. Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria. No matter how well you brush your teeth, it’s still possible for bacteria, plaque, and food particles to get trapped between your teeth and along the gum line. Flossing helps remove these harmful substances from your teeth and gums before they can cause long-lasting damage.

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that develops on your teeth every day, and it can range from colorless to pale yellow in color. Plaque forms on your teeth when the bacteria that naturally reside in your mouth mixes with starchy or sugary foods and drinks, such as soda, bread, and juice. The bacteria present in plaque release acids that break down tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay and cavities.

Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth and along the gum line, but plaque quickly hardens into a harmful substance called tartar if not removed on a regular basis. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional, but it attracts bacteria the longer it remains on your teeth and gum line, creating the ideal environment for an unhealthy amount of bacteria to thrive.

Plaque and tartar are highly irritating to the gum tissue and can cause an early form of gum disease called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your gums may appear puffy, red, and they may bleed when you brush or floss. Flossing for a few minutes every day is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent gingivitis and improve the health of your teeth and gums.

Diligently flossing every day can also improve your breath. Every time you floss, you’re removing particles of food that can break down and increase the number of bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to bad breath.

Unfortunately, the harm caused by failing to floss doesn’t stop at tooth decay, cavities, or bad breath. There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that gum disease is a contributing factor to many serious health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory problems. Many researchers and dental professionals believe that the link between oral health and overall health lies in the inflammation caused by excess oral bacteria.

If you take a prescription medication that causes dry mouth as a side effect, it’s also crucial for you to follow a strict flossing routine. Saliva rinses away particles of food and neutralizes the acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth, so you’re at an increased risk of plaque and bacteria if you have reduced saliva flow.

By flossing every day, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re doing everything you can to reduce your risk for the most common dental problems while also improving your overall health.

Dental Flossing for Kids

It’s time to start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as your child has developed two teeth that touch together. Early exposure to flossing and caring about their oral health sets your children on a path that will help them prevent cavities, plaque, tartar, and gum disease throughout their lives.

Simple Tricks to Make Flossing Fun

The earlier your kids can get into the habit of flossing their teeth every day, the better. These tips can help your kids learn to love flossing:

  • Make a flossing chart: Hanging a flossing chart on the bathroom wall serves as a helpful reminder and helps kids track their progress. To help kids keep track of their flossing success, place a colorful sticker on the chart each time your child flosses.
  • Lead by example: One of the best ways to help your kids learn to floss daily is for you to do it too! Make flossing a daily activity that your family performs together each day.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Using incentives for flossing a certain number of days in a row is an excellent way to help your kids make flossing a habit for a lifetime. Providing praise when your child flosses can make flossing a positive experience that keeps children excited about taking care of their oral health.
  • Turn flossing into fun and games: With some creativity, flossing can be a fun activity that your kids will look forward to. Try creating a fun story about a flossing superhero who protects their teeth from dangerous bacteria and plaque.

What Is the Correct Way to Floss?

Now that you know more about the specific reasons why you should floss for several minutes each day, knowing the correct technique to use while flossing will give you all of the benefits and none of the diseases. To help you floss your teeth correctly, follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around the middle fingers on both hands.
  2. Use your thumbs and index fingers to hold the floss tautly.
  3. Using your index fingers, gently glide the floss in an up-and-down motion, making sure to reach the sides of each tooth.
  4. To clean the space between your gums and teeth, form the floss into a C-shape and curve it along the base of each tooth.
  5. Repeat these steps as you progress from tooth to tooth. As you move to each tooth, make sure to use a clean section of the dental floss.

To avoid damaging your gums, it’s important to floss gently. If you have any questions about how you can improve your flossing technique, make an appointment at our office, and our dentist or dental hygienist can provide the help you need.

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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - Potomac

2010 Opitz Boulevard, # D, Woodbridge, VA 22191

(703) 595-2887