Studies show that only half of all adults floss, and around 20 percent do not floss at all. However, flossing is extremely important as it reaches the areas between your teeth and gums that brushing cannot. Even though brushing is also important, it only cleans about one third of your teeth surface area. When you floss after brushing, you can clean the other two thirds by removing food particles from between your teeth and between your teeth and gum area. These particles, if left alone, can easily lead to tooth decay and gum disease. It can also eventually cause bone rot, or periodontal disease.
Another reason to floss regularly is the link between gum disease and heart health. Infectious matter can easily enter the bloodstream through the mouth and then be transmitted to the heart or other parts of the body. This can lead to heart disease or other inflammatory conditions. It becomes even more vital to floss regularly if you have a poor diet or consume a lot of sugary foods.
Gum disease will cause inflammation in your mouth and then lead to tooth decay, which will eventually lead to tooth loss. It also weakens the ability of your gums to hold your teeth in place. Once periodontal disease is present, it cannot be reversed.
When flossing, it's also important to do it correctly. If you do not floss correctly, then you won't be reaping all the benefits of flossing to protect your teeth and gums.
To start, take a piece of floss out that is 18 inches long. Wrap each end of the floss around both of your middle fingers. Use your thumb and index fingers to hold the remaining length of floss. Insert the floss between your teeth and press it against the tooth that you're cleaning. Keep it pressed against the tooth and move the floss up and down. Resist using a sawing motion, which isn't as effective. Repeat these steps with the rest of your teeth, making sure to also get the back teeth.
For children, you may need to use dental tape, which allows for the larger amount of space that kids have between their teeth. You should start helping children to floss as soon as they grow two teeth right next to each other.
Flossing may seem troublesome and tedious, but it can save you a lot of dental and medical problems down the road.