While many of our patients at McKinney Smiles happily embrace their need to floss, it’s not uncommon for Dr. Lawrence and our staff of gentle dental hygienists to see the signs of a poor flossing habit when patients come to see their family dentist in McKinney.
If you don’t take flossing as seriously as recommended, you’re not alone. Here are a few statistics from the American Dental Association that gives an accurate idea of how seriously many Americans take the need to floss.
- 5 percent floss daily
- 31 percent don’t floss every day
- 5 percent never floss at all
What these numbers indicated is a troubling trend where patients either don’t understand or underestimate the impact that not flossing can have on their oral and overall health.
Flossing’s Impact on Your Health
So why does flossing really matter?
Flossing helps to remove harmful oral bacteria and food particles from the hard to reach areas of your mouth such as between teeth and below the gum line. For all of its strengths, brushing cannot adequately clean these areas of the mouth because bristles aren’t designed to penetrate between teeth or below the gum line.
If your daily oral hygiene regimen only includes brushing, you’re leaving large areas of your mouth entirely untouched. Harmful oral bacteria and food particles build up in these hard to clean areas, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease in the future.
When plaque – a sticky biofilm that grows on and in-between your teeth – is allowed to remain in the mouth it transforms into tartar, a hard yellowish substance that stains tooth enamel. Tartar forms along the gum line where the bacteria can cause your gum tissue to become inflamed. Gum inflammation can eventually lead to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease.
The bacteria that’s allowed to accumulate between your teeth will slowly begin to erode away at the enamel, which results in the development of cavities that weaken the overall strength, structure, and function of your teeth. Considering the number of people that fail to floss, it’s of little surprise that the most common place for cavities to develop is actually between your teeth.
The fact that flossing has become a too infrequent habit for many helps to contribute to a growing oral health crisis.
Oral Health Problems A Growing Concern
Studies conducted by the ADA have found that oral health problems have become common among both men and women under the age of 45 in the U.S. as the following statistics highlight:
Percent of suffering from untreated tooth decay: Men (29%) Women (25%)
Percent who have lost a permanent tooth: Men (30%) Women (32%)
Percent who suffer from gingivitis: Men (52%) Women (45%)
Poor oral health when younger leads to an increased risk of permanent tooth loss for patients as they become older. Currently, 24% of men and 27% of women over the age of 65 have had all of their permanent teeth removed.
In addition to permanent tooth loss, studies have found compelling links between an individual’s oral health and overall health. In recent years, a growing amount of research has found that individuals suffering from tooth decay and gum disease have an increased risk of developing a range of chronic health issues that include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, and cancer. While this area of study continues to receive additional attention, it’s become clear that how we treat our oral health makes a considerable difference on our health now and in the future.
As your family dentist in McKinney, it’s important that patients consider the long-term ramifications failing to floss and brush regularly can have on their health. If you have questions about the best practices for tending to your daily oral hygiene, feel free to ask any member of our staff during your next visit.