The holiday season is often associated with festive meals and sticky foods. And, even though there’s been some discussion about the need for flossing, the American Dental Association (ADA) continues to recommend cleaning between your teeth once a day.
Floss and other interdental cleaners get in between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque that is not removed can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
Whether you use floss or use another interdental cleaner is a personal choice, but it’s important to understand the proper technique for each tool so that it is effective. Your dentist or dental hygienist can offer guidance.
Here are some facts that may encourage you to keep flossing through the holidays:
- More than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque; some are good and some are bad for your mouth. Add in food and water, plaque can build up around the teeth and on the gum line and contribute to dental disease.
- Cleaning between teeth is proven to help remove the debris that can cause cavities or disease.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly half of all adults age 30 and older have some form of periodontal, or gum disease. By age 65, about 70 percent of adults are affected.
- It’s important to note, flossing should not be painful. If you floss too hard, you can damage the tissue between your teeth. If you’re too gentle, you might not be getting all the food out. Flossing may be uncomfortable at first, but if there’s pain for more than a week or so, see your dentist.
- There are several options available for cleaning between your teeth. You might choose dental floss or another product like a dental pick, a pre-threaded flosser, tiny brushes that reach between teeth or a wooden plaque remover.
Along with cleaning between your teeth once a day, the ADA recommends brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly to maintain good oral health.
Happy Holidays! FBN
By Bryan Shanahan, DDS