(BlackDoctor.org) – We know, we know, you don’t like to floss. But here’s a little secret: it’s not that high up on anybody else’s list of favorite things to do either. But, every six months, your dentist probably lectures about the importance of flossing. And you probably just ignore him or her.
“There is no instant gratification with flossing — that’s the problem,” says Alla Wheeler, RDH, MPA, associate professor of the Dental Hygiene Program at the New York University School of Dentistry. “Patients don’t think it does anything.”
Why Should I Bother?
Why? Because flossing does about 40% of the work required to remove sticky bacteria, or plaque, from your teeth. Plaque generates acid, which can cause cavities, irritate the gums and lead to gum disease. “Each tooth has five surfaces. If you don’t floss, you are leaving at least two of the surfaces unclean,” Wheeler explains. “Floss is the only thing that can really get into that space between the teeth and remove bacteria.”
Floss – An Overlooked Fountain of Youth?
Flossing, Wheeler says, might be an unrecognized source of youth and longevity. Gum disease can ruin the youthful aesthetics of your smile by eating away at gums and teeth. It also attacks the bones that support your teeth and the lower third of your face. People who preserve the height of that bone by flossing look better as they age.
Isn’t All Floss the Same?
No. Most floss is made of either nylon or Teflon, and both are equally effective. People with larger spaces between their teeth or with gum recession (loss of gum tissue, which exposes the roots of the teeth) tend to get better results with a flat, wide dental tape. But people whose teeth are close together should try thin floss (generally the packages will read “shred resistant”).