Proper Flossing: More Than Just Cavity Prevention

As a child, Mom told you to brush and floss your teeth in the morning and before going to bed. Now that you’re grown up, it can be difficult to remember to do both at night. After a long day at work, you may be exhausted and think that brushing will be enough as part of your nightly routine. But Mom always did know best, and any general dentist would agree with her advice.

Of course, we all know that food and liquids enter the body through the mouth. However, so does bacteria and germs that can cause anything from the common cold to more serious and deadly diseases. In the mouth, this bacteria lies on the surface of the teeth and accumulates; then it hardens to form plaque. Brushing at night gets rid of the bacteria that enters the mouth during the day. In the morning, it removes the germs that build up at night.

Still, brushing alone will not get rid of the bacteria in between teeth where bristles cannot reach. Over time, this bacteria will harden to form plaque in these hard to reach areas. Eventually, this plaque will cause cavities that need to be treated by your general dentist. Even worse, long term failure to treat plaque buildup will cause tooth decay throughout your mouth.

According to NYC dentists, there are other reasons that it’s important to brush – and floss – your teeth twice a day. Besides causing cavities, failure to properly remove plaque causes gingivitis. This disease is an inflammation of gums and the soft tissues surrounding your teeth. It can be very painful and involves bleeding from the sensitive spots. Plaque accumulation also causes halitosis, which is an ugly term for a very unattractive condition: bad breath. The bacteria and germs that form plaque have an unpleasant odor which is emitted from your mouth when you breathe and talk.

Plaque, if left alone to build up on the surface of teeth, will combine with saliva to cause tartar. This white film forms on a daily basis and makes teeth look unhealthy, dull and gray. Brushing slows accumulation down, and flossing reduces the formation in hard to reach spots in between teeth. However, you will still need to visit your general dentist regularly for more deep cleaning.

Beyond the damage that plaque building can cause in the mouth, NYC dentists stress that there are even more serious effects that can occur in the body. Brushing and flossing is important in the prevention of heart disease. As mentioned, plaque contains bacteria that forms on the surface of the teeth and in between. If left alone, this bacteria can make its way into the bloodstream through the gums and soft tissues in the mouth. The blood stream can carry these germs to the heart and increase the risk of diseases affecting your body’s pulmonary system.

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