Why do dental offices also lecture people about flossing?

Dentist Office in Raytown and Pleasant Hill, Missouri

Why We Still Need To Floss


              It’s the question 95% of the population dreads hearing in anticipation of their dental visit, have you been flossing?  Most people either flat out lie or exaggerate the truth extravagantly. The truth is most people don’t floss and never will, but this does not mean it isn’t important.

             Most people brush their teeth because it provides instant visible gratification by removing any food from their teeth which could create embarrassment or bad breath. As a consequence they believe their oral maintenance is complete, but they are not fooling their dentist or hygienist when they fail to floss.  Healthy gums do not bleed, and those who floss daily do not have gums that bleed.

            As stated above, flossing doesn’t provide that immediate impact on appearance that brushing does, so it is important to remember the long-term benefits of healthy teeth and gums.  A great analogy for flossing is with car maintenance.  There is no instant noticeable benefit to required maintenance such as oil changes, but failure to change the oil can lead to major problems down the line. The same can be said for failing to floss and thereby remove the plaque and bacteria from between the teeth.  Left untreated, this plaque can create cavities, gum irritation, and bone loss.  Bone loss from gum disease can seriously affect the way your teeth look, and even eventually lead to tooth loss.  The only foolproof way to remove all of the acid producing bacteria in plaque is by flossing, or another form of interproximal cleaning.

            Do I really need to floss every day?

            It’s actually worse than you thinkJ Yes, not only should all of us be flossing daily, but we should actually be flossing twice a day, yike!  Research shows there is a substantial benefit to flossing after breakfast and before bedtime.  Such practices reduce interproximal plaque buildup and thus gingival inflammation, and reduce bad breath.  However, if you find it hard enough to floss just once a day (like most people), then you should floss at night when your mouth has less saliva with which to fight bacteria. The key is to keep your floss out in plain view the same way you do for your toothbrush.  We are all more likely to floss twice a day if the floss is next to our toothbrush and not buried in a drawer someplace.