We have all heard, with each passing dental visit, that we should floss our teeth at least once a day. But how many of us really take the time and the effort to do that? It might be because we find the whole process a pain in the neck or it might be because we really don’t understand the health benefits of flossing.
Dentists seem to be enamored of floss; the hygienist reminds us with each visit and every other dental commercial seems to be about dental health and flossing. There is truth in these statements.
Researchers know that some of the health benefits of flossing include preventing tooth decay between teeth because it helps us to remove large and small particles of food from between teeth. If you’ve ever gotten a bit of apple skin, popcorn or corn on the cob stuck between your teeth you’ll be singing the praises of dental floss. Those bits of food are almost impossible to remove, cause discomfort to your teeth and can even make your tongue sore. Removal of those food particles with dental floss will provide you with greater comfort and will help to decrease your risk of cavities between the teeth.
Another of the health benefits of dental floss is to help decrease any problems you may have with bad breath. One of the common key factors of bad breath is bacteria which lives in the mouth. Flossing will benefit your breath by limiting the food supply for the bacteria in your mouth. If you have any question about how those food particles and bacteria can contribute to your bad breath just smell the dental floss after flossing a couple of teeth and then multiply that by 32 (the number of adult teeth).
Gum disease is another one of the problems that are relieved by flossing. The bacteria that grows in your mouth can also contribute to the inflammation of the gums and gum disease. Gum disease will make the gums pull back from the teeth which allows the bacteria to get into those pockets and cause even more damage to the tooth, bone and tissue. Gum disease will cause loss of bone that holds the tooth in place, tissue that supports the teeth and encourages tooth decay.
And if those problems caused by not flossing aren’t enough to change your mind and clearly outweigh the inconvenience in your life, then this last health benefit of flossing may tip the scales in favor of flossing.
Bacteria that invades the body through the gums has also been linked to an increased incidence of diabetes. The theory is that the bacteria causes an increase in the inflammatory response of the body which also may attack the cells of the pancreas which secrete insulin. When those cells are damaged or destroyed then the person experiences Type 2 Diabetes.
Humana: Benefits of Using Dental Floss
Forbes: Dentists Say You Need to Floss. Science Says You Don’t
Colgate: How to Floss
NHS: Why Should I Use Dental Floss
Johns Hopkins: Flossing
Medical News Today: There’s Simply No Substitute for Flossing
MayoClinic: Oral Health: Brush up on dental care basics
All Women Stalk: 7 Health Benefits of Flossing
American Diabetes Association: Brush and Floss