Earlier this month, a friend of mine went to the dentist. The hygienist was impressed with her because her gums were much healthier than the last time she'd come in for a cleaning. She told the hygienist she'd been flossing and using mouthwash, so she was glad that she was getting results from that. Then she said, "Are you in love?"
The answer was no, but even if it had been yes, it wouldn't have really followed that she'd started flossing because she was in love. She started flossing for herself - because her gums were bleeding and looking swollen and red. It seemed like a good idea to prevent more serious problems like gum disease and trench mouth.
Let's talk about some of the great reasons for everyone to floss. If you're flossing for someone else, it won't become a habit. If you're flossing for yourself, you can save yourself plenty of dental problems consistently (even during those times when you are eating huge amounts of ice cream because you're so depressingly single, eh?)
- Brushing takes care of about 65% of your teeth - and leaves the other 35% dirty and full of acid-producing bacteria.
- Bacteria starts out in soft stuff called plaque, but if you don't floss, it hardens into something called tartar, which is much harder to remove. (It's that stuff your dentist scrapes off with the little metal hook.)
- Tartar allows more and more bacteria to build up and attack your gums, causing gingivitis and periodontis. Eventually, untreated gum and mouth problems can lead to problems with the bones in your jaw and tooth loss. Floss them or lose them.
- According to some studies, bacteria in the mouth can actually lead to heart disease. The carotid arteries seem to thicken in people who have lots of bacteria in their mouths, which can lead to heart problems later.
- Flossing may also reduce the risk of diabetes or diabetes complications. Periodontal disease appears to make insulin resistance worse, which can lead to all kinds of complications, including (potentially) diabetes itself.