What You Need to Know About Flossing

Woman flossingWhat is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease increases your risk of serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and obesity. As the second most common disease in the world, periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Fortunately, it’s preventable. The most important weapon in the war on gum disease isn’t expensive or high-tech; it’s just a little thread that ties everything together. Flossing is, hands down, the best way to prevent periodontitis. Yet most people don’t floss daily, or even at all.

What Happens When I Don’t Floss?

When you don’t floss, bacteria and food particles stay trapped between your teeth. Your gums become irritated and swollen, and are no longer flush with your teeth. This creates a space for bacteria to lodge between teeth and gums and start breeding out of reach. As time goes on, both hard and soft tissue wears away by these microbes and their waste products. Eventually, bone and gum loss leaves teeth barely attached to your jaw, and prone to falling out.

When and How Should I Floss?

You should floss once a day before bed. Floss before you brush, as it will loosen food particles your brush can then remove. If you use a mouthwash with fluoride, rinse after you’re done brushing. If your mouthwash is primarily antimicrobial, use it before flossing. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association has an illustrated guide to flossing on this page.

If you have dental restorative work, such as crowns or bridges, or if you have orthodontia (like braces), ordinary floss may not be right for you. Dr. Kania will tell you which type of floss is best for your unique needs. If you’ve been using regular waxed floss and want a change, try a flavored spongy variety. It’s less irritating to your gums, and you’ll get a real burst of flavor when you floss!

Regular flossing shouldn’t hurt your gums or cause bleeding. Tender, swollen gums that bleed when you floss or brush is a warning that you have gum disease.  Often people have no signs or symptoms of gum disease. An exam is required to determine if disease is present. Since gum disease gets worse as time goes on, prompt treatment is essential to keeping your teeth. Contact Dr. Ann Kania today at (760) 642-0711 to schedule your appointment for laser periodontal care in Encinitas. We also serve patients in Del Mar, Carlsbad, La Costa, Rancho Santa Fe, and the greater San Diego area.