4 benefits of using dental floss
Should you floss before or after brushing? Some dentists have a preference, but most will be happy if you just floss regularly. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)
Everyone knows that good dental hygiene is important, but we often overlook regular use of dental floss as part of our regimen. When you floss often, you combat and help prevent the following problems:
• Tartar buildup. When plaque mixes with saliva, it calcifies, becoming tartar. An accumulation of tartar threatens the health of your gums and provides an ideal place for more plaque to build up in your mouth. You can remove the accumulation of tartar by removing plaque when flossing in conjunction with brushing.
• Tooth decay. Plaque left between your teeth causes cavities by acting as a host for bacteria, which thrives on sugar. Once mixed with the sweet stuff, bacteria goes to work producing tooth decay. Brushing removes plaque and bacteria from the surface of your teeth, but using floss can remove plaque from between your teeth, making it an essential step toward reducing the risk of cavities between visits to the dentist.
• Gum disease. An accumulation of plaque also can cause gingivitis, a type of gum disease that can lead to more serious infections and even tooth loss. Plaque hides along the gum line and in between the teeth, and dental flossing can remove it from these areas and eliminate harmful bacteria.
• Halitosis. Halitosis is a fancy name for bad breath. When plaque remains between your teeth, the bacteria it harbors can create a foul smell. Tooth decay and gum disease can also cause halitosis. Flossing is the best way to rid the mouth of the bacteria that causes these issues.