Are you a flosser? If you don’t floss regularly, then the new year is the perfect time to start. It’s no secret that most people don’t floss as much as they should, if at all. But this can have extremely negative effects on both your oral and overall health.
Flossing supports your oral health in a number of ways by helping prevent issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. It can also help with complications related to diabetes, lung health, and cardiovascular disease. Getting in the habit of flossing can be hard, but you can do it by using visual cues and remembering that small steps form habits.
To help you make flossing your New Year’s Resolution, we’ll look at:
- How flossing supports oral health
- Surprising health benefits of flossing
- How to start flossing regularly
When it comes to your oral health, brushing alone isn’t enough and mouthwash can’t replace flossing. By making flossing your New Year’s Resolution, you’ll be setting yourself up for good oral health for years to come.
How Flossing Supports Oral Health
The majority of diseases that affect your dental health start between your teeth. While brushing is essential for removing plaque and other surfaces in the mouth, your toothbrush can’t get between teeth where harmful bacteria likes to hide. And despite its ability to get between your teeth, even the best mouthwash is no replacement for daily flossing.
Floss and similar tools are known as interdental cleaners and are specifically designed to clean between your teeth. They remove and prevent the buildup of plaque, tartar, and any food that may get stuck there. Floss and other interdental cleaners aren’t backups for your toothbrush. Instead, they work with brushing as the first line of defense in oral care.
Failure to floss at least once a day can lead to serious oral health problems, including:
- Gum disease
- Bacterial infections
- Tooth decay
- Bad breath
Flossing will also save you money. Treatments for gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis can be both expensive and time-consuming. By flossing at least once a day, you’ll also be avoiding spending more time and money at the dentist than you would prefer later in life.
It never hurts to brush up on the basics, even if you’ve been doing something for years. Flossing is very important to your dental health so it’s a good idea to review the basics. This will help encourage you to keep up the habit if you’ve been flossing and to get off on the right foot if you’re trying to develop the habit.
To get the most out of flossing:
- Select a piece of floss about the length of your elbow to fingertips
- Wrap both ends around your middle fingers
- Hold both ends of floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers
- Slide the floss between your teeth and gently rub up and down on both sides
- At the gumline, gently slide the floss between the gum and tooth
- Make sure to get the back of your last tooth
Following these steps will ensure that you’re giving your teeth the best cleaning possible.
Surprising Health Benefits of Flossing
Flossing at least once per day doesn’t simply keep your gums healthy. Your mouth acts as one of the main entryways to the rest of your body, so it should come as no surprise that your oral health can impact your overall health. Flossing is important since it gets at bacteria that brushing can’t and helps keep your whole body healthy.
Diabetes and Flossing
Diabetes can have a huge impact on your health, including the health of your teeth and gums. High blood sugar leads to more sugars and starches in your mouth, which can eventually result in:
- Tooth decay
- Gingivitis (early gum disease)
- Periodontitis (advanced gum disease)
These along with other complications can seriously affect multiple aspects of your health as well as your self-esteem. Fortunately, practicing good oral habits can help protect your teeth from the effects of diabetes. Flossing at least once a day after meals can help remove excess sugars and starches from your teeth and gums, keeping them clean and healthy.
Flossing and Respiratory Health
Bacteria in your mouth can harm more than your teeth and gums. According to one study of 200 participants, people with poor respiratory health also tend to have poor oral health habits. Experts suspect that bacteria from the mouth and throat make their way down to the lungs, resulting in an infection. It’s just one more reason to be flossing on a daily basis.
Heart Disease and Flossing
Experts are still conducting research, but there seems to be a connection between heart disease and oral health. Whether it’s tooth loss or gum disease, those with poor oral health experience higher rates of stroke and heart attack than those with good oral health. Whatever the connection, it’s one more reason that flossing is essential for your oral and overall health.
How to Start Flossing Regularly
Flossing can be a difficult habit to start or even maintain. To stay motivated, it pays to remember how essential it is not only to your oral and overall health, but to your own sense of confidence. If left alone, mild gum disease can develop into periodontitis, which can result in major dental problems including tooth loss.
To get into the habit of flossing, you’ll need to:
- Choose a trigger
- Set up a visual cue
- Floss a single tooth
- Keep track of changes
- Keep track of your progress
Choose a Trigger
To choose a trigger, pick something you already do automatically and incorporate flossing into it. In this case, brushing your teeth would probably be best. Whenever you begin to brush your teeth, remind yourself that that’s your trigger for flossing. Simply put the brush down and floss first.
Set Up a Visual Cue
It can be helpful to set up a visual cue to floss. The best way to do this is to have your floss right next to your toothbrush and toothpaste. This will ensure that you have a visual reminder to floss so you never forget.
Floss a Single Tooth
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. While flossing is nothing like building one of the greatest civilizations ever known, it still began with one brick. You may find flossing to be boring or taking too long. Start by flossing one tooth and slowly add more over time. This will help you get used to how long it takes and make it a part of your daily routine.
Keep Track of Changes
Keeping track of changes allows you to notice the positive effects flossing has on your mouth. You may notice that you have fresher breath or that your teeth feel cleaner. Whatever it is, remind yourself that these are the benefits of flossing and that they’re worth keeping.
Keep Track of Your Progress
The benefit of developing a habit is that it’s something you don’t have to think about. It becomes something that you automatically do. However, you may find it helpful to keep track of your habit-building to encourage yourself and stay focused. Try marking every day that you floss on a calendar to keep track of your progress and encourage yourself to keep going.
Along with brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for maintaining good oral health. Schedule your appointment online for a smile you can be proud of all year long.
My Family Dentistry is open Monday through Thursday and every other Friday. Give us a call at (865) 947-6453.