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How Flossing Well Can Lower Your Risk for Gum Disease

The CDC reports that nearly 50% of the population over the age of 30 has some form of periodontal disease. Luckily, the early stages of gum disease can be alleviated and reversed with proper dental hygiene, including flossing. Despite this fact, many people don’t floss regularly or properly, leaving themselves vulnerable to gum disease.

At the Washington, DC, dental practice of Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc,  we can give you the dental examination and biannual cleaning you need. We can also help you improve your day-to-day dental hygiene with proper flossing techniques! 

How does flossing help your teeth and gums? 

Flossing dislodges bits of debris from in between your teeth. These hard-to-reach crevices might not be properly cleaned during brushing, so it’s important to follow up with floss to ensure that nothing gets trapped around the gumline. 

When you fail to floss, you allow bacteria to build up below the gumline, causing diseased pockets in your gums. Gum disease can spread, and eventually cause tooth loss. Flossing removes 80% of interdental plaque, which drastically lowers your chances of cavities and gum disease. 

Despite this, many people fail to floss, floss their teeth improperly, or end up hurting themselves while flossing. You might be tempted to fudge your flossing stats when you talk to your hygienist, but it’s better to come clean and ask for help with your flossing technique.

How to floss properly

Contrary to popular belief, you should actually floss before you brush, not the other way around. Flossing clears your teeth of any trapped debris, and then brushing cleans these areas and rinsing washes everything clean. It’s recommended that you brush your teeth twice a day, and floss and rinse before bed.

It’s important to floss your teeth gently, and make sure to get in between every tooth. Do not jam the floss up into your gums; this can make them hurt and bleed. However, bleeding gums aren’t always a sign that you’re doing it wrong; if you’ve avoided flossing for a while, your gums might be inflamed and tender. 

This doesn’t mean you should stop flossing. In fact, it means you should floss and brush more often to avoid gingivitis and eventually, gum disease. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and ask your hygienist to show you the best way to floss to prevent irritation.

If you avoid flossing because you have motor control issues, find it difficult to use string floss, or find the process time-consuming, try tools like dental picks and water flossers. Along with routine brushing and flossing, regular dental cleanings can also help you stay on top of your teeth and prevent disease. 

To schedule a cleaning and dental checkup, get in touch with Dr. Culotta-Norton by calling 202-833-1111, or request an appointment online

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