Why is flossing so important?

Oral hygiene and the use of interdental aids are pivotal for the preservation of oral health. The accumulation of Bio-film, plaque, and calculus are still considered the leading cause of gingivitis, with the potential to lead to an onset of periodontal disease (Gum and bone disease). Since soft plaque begins to harden on the tooth surface (through the mineral composition of our saliva) within 24-48 hours, aids such as: floss, soft picks/wooden toothpicks, proxy brushes, and water flossers on daily basis are key to avoiding the accumulation of harmful bacteria.

The use of floss dates back to the early 19
th century and has generally been accepted as a reasonable aid for the removal of soft plaque below the gum line. Floss can be very effective in a healthy mouth; However, the more active the inflammation present in the mouth, the less effective floss becomes. Studies show that floss can reach into the sulcus, which is the healthy pocket between the gum and tooth, up to 2.5mm-3.5mm. Comparatively, early onset of periodontal disease is considered 4mm below the gumline. Dental floss is also available in several different types such as: waxed, un-waxed, thick yarn, and thin floss. Currently, flosses equipped with a rough or waxed surface prove to be effective at removing bio-film and soft plaque due to its stickier surface.

Several studies have been conducted that demonstrate individuals who use interdental aids such as floss, in comparison to individuals using only tooth brushing alone, have healthier oral tissues overall. The descriptive factors used to determine what entails a healthier mouth include: no bleeding, no inflammation (Tissue tone and texture), pocket depths (3mm and under are considered healthy) and lower rates of active decay (Cavities). Tooth brushing can be a effective mechanical intervention in removing bio-film, plaque, and food debris from along the gum line when used appropriately, however, it often falls short at removing bacteria and food from between the space where our teeth contact adjacent teeth.

Building a healthy and consistent flossing habit could be the difference between maintaining the health of your mouth or not. We’ve all been told by our Dentists, “Floss your teeth!” but building a habitual flossing habit can be a challenge. While in the dental chair, I tell my patients that are looking to become more proactive with their dental health a few of these tips:

  • Find an interdental aid that works best for you and the current condition of your mouth. This can be a challenge, so a regular check up with your neighbourhood dental professional is key. Next time you’re in the chair, ask your dental hygienist to recommend a tool that may be right for you. Things to consider are: how tight the contacts of your teeth are, if you have suffered from periodontal disease (now or in the past), or if you are prone to getting cavities (now or in the past).
  • Take the time to ensure it becomes habitual. Consider a time of day that you often have free time, whether that time is in the morning, mid-day, or at night. Once you have thought of a good time of day for you, set a reminder on your phone or iPad to trigger your brain, it’s time to floss! You can also place post-it notes on your computer at work, bathroom mirror, or on the bed side table, as well as having the necessary materials readily available in convenient spots. Setting reminders can help you stay consistent and accountable to yourself.


    So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start flossing your way to a healthier and happier smile! Once you build this habit, it will become as easy as 1,2,3…

-Zoe
Braeside Dental Centre

Why is flossing so important?

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