BY Christian K. Bahr, DDS
She isn’t shy about it. My wife hates to floss her teeth. You would think she would know better. After all, her father, brother and husband are dentists. None of us can get her to floss. Maybe this article will help. But don’t hold your breath — I’m not. Perhaps she just thinks that what doesn’t kill her makes her stronger (See Kelly Clarkson).
A friend recently told me, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: either the pain of discipline (this weighs ounces) or the pain of regret (this weighs pounds).” This quote applies not only to flossing, but also exercising, eating right, calling your mother, and spending time with your kids.
Why floss? Flossing helps prevent tooth decay, periodontal disease and gingivitis. Researchers have found that flossing removes bacteria and plaque from the teeth and gums. If not removed, the plaque on our teeth can be absorbed into the blood stream and contribute to clogged arteries and veins. Studies show that not flossing leads to tooth loss. Tooth loss (without replacement) leads to poor physical function, including increased risk for cancer, stroke, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Good dental hygiene has many benefits — including, but not limited to, avoiding the diseases mentioned above. Here are some tips: Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste. Floss daily. Flossing helps clean the areas in between your teeth, and slightly under your gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach. Limit snacking and sipping on sugary drinks. Consider having your dentist place sealants, a protective coating, on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. Sealants can help eliminate places for bacteria to collect. Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings, a comprehensive examination, and other preventive care. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
“Flossing does for your teeth what vacuuming in between the seats, after a one week road trip with toddlers, does for your car,” said Daniel Crouch, a personal trainer and wellness guide. “It gets the cheerios, French fries and pacifiers from collecting dust and stinking up your ride. A smile is a terrible thing to waste, so be good to your teeth, your gums, your heart and your kissing partner and make your mouth as clean as possible.”