Do I Really Have to Floss???

Flossing is one of the most difficult things to get people to do, but probably the most effective method of reducing the need for a dentist and preventing disease. So what makes the difference? Why do some people floss, while others struggle? Why do some people get the importance while others bring up every excuse in the world to avoid it?

 

I’m starting with my boyfriend, an educated, handsome, reasonable guy who works out, takes care of his health and appearance. So why doesn’t he floss? Does he not understand the importance? He said he didn’t like putting the string around his fingers, or he falls asleep before he can floss, he doesn’t like the gross plaque on his fingers, etc, etc. He apparently likes the floss on a pick more; “Okay," I said, “so use the pick.”  “I will, I will,” he said, the way most people say they will start their diets tomorrow.

 

Maybe people don’t know the importance of flossing. They think, “I brush my teeth twice a day, my breath feels fresh, how bad could it be?” My friend Mike says that after he brushes, he feels like he’s attended to that body part and he’s done. People usually don’t realize that their breath stinks, and a lot of times their loved ones are too nice to tell them the truth.

 

Here is my best argument for flossing. These points are what I use to convince my patients to floss at my practice; 50% of the time it works! Hopefully, you'll convert (or be even more diligent) after reading the following:

 

1. If you’re going to pick between brushing and flossing, FLOSS!!! Yes, I said it ... FLOSS! I know it sounds contradictory but the bacteria in between your teeth can cause way more damage than the plaque and bacteria on the front and back of your teeth. Your saliva, tongue and other foods take care of removing most of that. But in between teeth, food, bacteria, and plaque only come off with flossing.

 

2. A lot of times people will tell me they don’t floss because it causes their gums to bleed. What they don’t know is that healthy gums don’t have enough of a blood supply to bleed, no matter how hard you brush or floss. I can go in between healthy gums with a sharp dental instrument and they not only don’t bleed, they aren’t even tender. Unhealthy gums have too much blood in them so they bleed. Your body sends blood to your gums to fight off the infection and bacteria. The problem is your body senses your tooth as the infection for all practical purposes and tries to get rid of your tooth (hence bone loss around the tooth and eventual tooth loss if not treated). The more you floss, the healthier your gums get, the less they bleed!

 

3. Did you know that if a person gets a human bite, we don’t close the wound? A dog bite would be stitched up, but  the human mouth has so much bacteria that it can cause sepsis and shock if you close that bacteria inside the body. When you have bleeding gums, it’s like an open window for this bacteria to get into your blood stream. The bacteria then travels throughout your body, increasing your chances of heart disease, compromising your immune system, and possibly causing an infection in the lining of your heart, which can be deadly!

 

4. If you are pregnant, the bacteria that causes gingivitis (which comes from not flossing) can cause low birth weight babies and more complications during pregnancy.

 

5. Ideally, you should floss at night, but as long as you floss once every 24 hours, in most cases, your gums and teeth will be protected. There’s always a perfect time to floss – most of us are stuck in traffic during the day, or on hold on a phone at some point. Sure, it’s not sexy, but who’s watching? And it’s way sexier to have a clean, non-smelly mouth!

 

So after all this, will my boyfriend start flossing? Will you? I sure hope so!

 

Added to Illness Prevention, Oral Health on Mon 07/11/2011