zac-oct18Two days ago it was time for my regular dentist check up and I felt pretty good going into the appointment. Earlier this year, my wife and I switched from our SonicCare toothbrushes (we loved them, but after several years the batteries drained out so we decided to try some cheaper options) to electronic Oral B ones. I was curious to see what feedback the dentist would give me.

As the dental hygienist cleaned my teeth, she noted that my gums appeared a bit more inflamed than she was used to seeing and there was even a bit of trauma to one area of my upper plate gum line. She recommended that I returned to the SonicCare toothbrush but even more important, she wanted to talk to me about flossing.

Yup. Flossing.

Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day to help remove plaque from the areas between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing also helps prevent gum disease and cavities.

“So how often do you floss?” she says. Well, pretty much never. I could have lied to avoid the topic, but the truth is, I’m lucky if I remember to floss once a month (and usually it’s because I got a popcorn kernel or something stuck somewhere, not because I’m thinking about my oral health). I just don’t think about flossing that much. Like it’s the last thing on my mind when I’m getting ready in the bathroom.

The funny thing is, my toothbrushing habits are solid. I invest at least two minutes every morning into brushing my teeth and another two at night before bed (and that’s using the SonicCare and Oral B brushes with built in timers, so I know I do it for that long).

I don’t think I’m alone on this too. How many of us are really diligent about your flossing? I guess I just haven’t seemed to make the connection that overall mouth health is not just about brushing your teeth. It’s about brushing your teeth AND flossing.

Remember, the goal of flossing and brushing is to remove plaque buildup. Plaque consists of active colonies of destructive bacteria, which basically eat and then excrete on our teeth. Brushing only removes plaque from the front and back surfaces of your teeth.

Flossing, on the other hand, allows you to remove plaque from between your teeth and underneath the gums. These hard-to-reach spots are where the most destructive microbes live. Failure to remove plaque from these areas can cause gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontitis.

Brushing eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached, but flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line.

Guess what though… This morning I cleaned between my teeth and under my gum line because I flossed!!! I’m going to do my best to make this a new habit. Fingers crossed that it goes well.