How to Floss Your Way to Healthier Gums

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How to Floss Your Way to Healthier Gums

When you’re a kid, losing a tooth is an exciting part of growing up. As an adult, the prospect of tooth loss isn’t exciting — it’s upsetting, especially considering that adult tooth loss is permanent.

While different issues can contribute to adult tooth loss, the most common cause is gum disease (or periodontal disease), a progressive disease that affects almost half of all American adults. While you can replace missing teeth with dentures or implants, it’s certainly better to prevent gum disease — and often, the solution is as simple as flossing regularly using the right technique.

At Tomase Dental Care in Toledo, Ohio, Timothy Tomase, DDS, helps patients maintain healthy gums with regular preventive care and home care guidance, including help with flossing habits. Here, learn the basics about gum disease and how flossing can help you enjoy healthier gums and a more beautiful smile.

Gum disease basics

Gum disease happens when sticky plaque deposits cling to the surfaces of your teeth, particularly along your gumline. Plaque contains bacteria that thrive on food particles. These bacteria release a substance that irritates your gums.

As irritation continues, your gums respond by pulling away from the bacteria — and from the surfaces of your teeth. This creates tiny pockets that allow bacteria to move down the tooth surface — and the cycle continues.

Eventually, bacteria reach the root pocket, causing an infection that weakens the tooth root. Without treatment, infection spreads, leading to tooth loss and sometimes more serious infections in your jaws and other areas.

How flossing prevents gum disease

Brushing your teeth twice a day is one of the best ways to get rid of plaque on the easy-to-reach areas of your teeth. But the crevices between your teeth can’t be reached with a toothbrush, and that means these areas are ideal hiding spots for disease-causing bacteria.

Flossing reaches between your teeth, and with proper techniques, breaks up sticky plaque deposits. Rinsing after flossing helps remove plaque and the bacteria it contains, promoting better gum health overall.

Flossing also prevents plaque from turning into tartar, extremely hard deposits that can’t be removed with brushing and flossing alone. Plus, regular flossing promotes circulation in your gums, helping your gums ward off infections while supporting healthy tissue turnover.

Technique is critical

Most people know they should floss once a day to keep plaque deposits under control. But what a lot of people don’t know is that their flossing technique matters, too.

To begin, break off a piece of floss about 18 inches in length and wrap the ends around the tips of your middle fingers. Holding the floss taut, gently insert the floss between two teeth, moving it down to the gum line. (Avoid sawing motions that can damage your gums.)

Once the floss reaches the gum line, curve the floss in a C-shape around the tooth surface and move the floss up and down to break up plaque film. Repeat for each tooth, advancing the floss as you go to use a fresh piece for each tooth.

Play a proactive role in your oral health

Proper brushing and flossing techniques are essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy between visits, but you also need regular checkups to prevent disease. If it’s time for your routine checkup, call 419-670-6537 or book an appointment online at Tomase Dental Care today.