If you want to take excellent care of your teeth, it isn’t enough that you brush twice daily; family dentist Dr. Tamatha C. Pantano, DMD highly recommends flossing, as well. But what exactly is it about flossing that makes it such a vital part of an effective dental health routine?
To find out, we first need to familiarize ourselves with how cavities form.
After eating, the food particles left in our mouth are broken down by the bacteria that comprise the plaque on our teeth. This process leads to the production of acid, which can corrode the hard, outer layer of the teeth known as enamel. Allowing plaque to build up raises your mouth’s acidity above acceptable levels, creating an environment that is conducive to the destruction of teeth a.k.a. the formation of cavities.
Why toothbrushing isn’t enough
Brushing your teeth gets rid of the bacteria on your teeth, thereby preventing the build-up of plaque.
Unfortunately, toothbrushes can’t reach all parts of the teeth, such as those extremely narrow spaces between the teeth. So even if you brush twice daily, food particles may remain stuck in those inaccessible areas, where plaque can then build up to raise the acidity of your oral cavity.
If left unchecked, plaque can also harden into tartar, which accumulates along the gum line, potentially causing gum disease. Only a dentist can remove tartar.
The value of flossing
Floss can access and clean parts of the teeth your toothbrush can’t reach, such as the aforementioned tight spaces between the teeth. Flossing, therefore, provides enhanced protection against tooth decay and even prevents gum disease.
The American Dental Association emphasizes the importance of using an interdental cleaner, such as floss, once daily. Unlike brushing your teeth, which is best done before breakfast and before bedtime, flossing can be done at any time of the day.
Make sure to apply the appropriate amount of pressure when flossing. Flossing too hard can damage the tissue between the teeth. If you floss too gently, you won’t be able to dislodge all the food particles stuck between your teeth.
It’s also important that you only use only the proper tools to clean your teeth. In addition to dental floss, there’s the water flosser and the dental pick. Your dentist should be able to help you pick the right tool(s) for you.
Are you looking for ways to prevent tooth decay and gum disease? Please browse our list of services to see how we can be of assistance to you, and feel free to contact Audubon Dental Center of Clinton if you have any questions.