Have you ever heard the phrase “I’d rather get my tooth pulled than go to Aunt Betty’s,” or something to that effect? From a dentist’s perspective, it seems people would rather get a tooth pulled than floss their teeth. Unfortunately, while that phrase is used to convey humor, it’s pretty literal when talking about flossing. While it’s not guaranteed you’ll have to get your tooth pulled out if you don’t floss, it greatly increases your odds of having cavities and gum disease, as well as other issues such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.

You Can’t Brush It Off

No matter what the opinion is about flossing, the truth of the matter is that your toothbrush can’t reach the surface between your teeth. In effect, you brush the inside, outside, and bite side of your tooth but not the sides that face another tooth. All the food and plaque that you brush off the other sides just stays in between. It sits there and eats away at the surface of your teeth and your gums.

A Different Way to Look at It

Still not convinced?
Think about it this way … you walk on your feet all day. You wear socks and shoes or boots. Your feet might get wet. Your socks leave fuzzies. Or maybe you were playing barefooted in the mud? When you come home, you don’t just wash the top and bottom of your feet and toes do you? To avoid them smelling badly or getting fungus, you wash between your toes, too!
If you don’t floss, you are leaving the build-up of all that goes through your mouth on the side surfaces of your teeth. If you get regular hygienist cleanings, that’s six months of build-up sitting on them that you breathe in and out daily. While it’s kind of gross to think about it that way, it does put it into perspective.

Flossing Confusion

People have all sorts of reasons for not flossing from saying that it’s too time-consuming all the way to saying they don’t know how to do it. Once you get in the habit, it takes less time than it does to brush your teeth properly. If you can’t figure out the style of flossing your hygienist or dentist taught you, think about what your toothbrush accomplishes on the other surfaces of your teeth and it’s easy to remember your goal.
The floss needs to gently scrape the surface clean and clear out just under the gum. Lift the debris up toward the chewing surface versus down toward the gum. Do one tooth’s surface, and then the next. It’s that easy.

Answers and Help

As always, Danville Family Dentistry is here to help you with your dental needs and answer any questions you may have. Whether you’ve flossed or not, be sure to make an appointment for a check-up with the dentist and regular appointments with the hygienist to make sure you keep your teeth clean and strong so they stay healthy. Give us a call at (317) 745-4400 to schedule an appointment.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.