Your dentist is right: flossing is vital
Yes, it’s about as much fun as cleaning grout, but flossing regularly will do more than keep your smile bright: flossing seems to help prevent gum disease, and researchers have linked the bacteria that ride along with periodontitis (the official name for gum disease) to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, some cancers, and even Alzheimer’s disease. And yet, only a small percentage of adults floss every day.
You’re not flossing enough
It’s best to floss twice a day if you’re serious about preventing gum disease, which along with tooth decay is the biggest threat to dental health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that’s what your dentist will likely suggest. “My preference is twice a day,” says dentist Chris Strandburg. “When it comes to oral hygiene, bacteria are the enemy. These bacteria infect our teeth and gums and cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath.” Since we eat three times a day, we’re constantly adding debris and bacteria to the spaces between our teeth and gums, so removing those threats frequently will keep your mouth healthier, he explains.
You’re not flossing at the right time
Flossing is an integral part of oral hygiene because brushing does not remove all particles of food and plaque on its own, says clinical associate professor of paediatric dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Elliott Maser. “Saliva flow decreases when one sleeps, so food material left on the teeth overnight have a great chance of starting a bacterial breakdown process or causing gum inflammation,” he explains. For that reason, you should make sure you floss before bed to remove any bacteria and food particles that may have collected on the teeth throughout the day.