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Dental Health: Gum Disease and Why Flossing Matters

No matter how busy we get in a day, our dental care routine should never fail to be on our to-do list. One of the very first oral hygiene practices we were taught is brushing our teeth. It is a universally accepted fact that regular and correct toothbrushing using a good quality toothbrush helps prevent various dental diseases and infections. However, good dental health shouldn’t end there. Dental professionals encourage the use of dental floss on a daily basis. Since toothbrushes are not designed for interdental cleaning, flossing follows up on those hard to reach corners of your dental area and removes the food particles that a toothbrush wasn’t able to clean. It is necessary to clean 100% of your mouth since your gums and teeth are very sensitive parts of your body. Many dental patients that complain of gum infections aren't believers of flossing. Just like any dental problem, gum infections don't appear overnight. Rather, it's a product of poor oral hygiene and in fact, it undergoes stages before it turns into full blown periodontitis.

Stages of Gum Disease

Gingivitis

After some time of not flossing and leaving small food particles in between teeth, you may experience red, swollen, and tender gums. This condition can be reversed through proper brushing and flossing only if you realize this at an early stage. Thus, it is necessary to know the warning signs of unhealthy gums for early detection.

Periodontitis

When you fail to catch up with the warning signs of damaged gums, the problem can become more severe and eventually lead to periodontitis. This means that the infection has already affected the tooth root because the plaque had created pockets of infected material. When this happens, the gum detaches from the gum line and leaves a space between the gums and the teeth. This is alarming because the space serves as a gateway for bacteria to penetrate the inner portions of your teeth.

Advanced Periodontitis

This is basically level 2 of periodontitis. Pockets are deepened further which raises your chances of losing a tooth if the bones attaching your teeth to the gums are damaged. It is best to visit your dentist to know exactly if you have periodontitis but here are some of its symptoms:
  • Halitosis (Persistent Bad Breath)
  • Swollen, Tender Gums
  • Pain when chewing hard foods
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing

Flossing counts

Many people miss out on how important flossing is as part of a daily dental routine. Just like toothbrushing, flossing is as necessary to perform everyday. It prevents the plaque bacterial biofilm from calcifying saliva minerals that can form on your gum line. Many people misinterprets flossing as hazardous especially when their gums starts to bleed. The truth is, continuous flossing despite of gum bleeding will help stop the bleeding later on. The American Dental Association recommends to use a dental floss until your gums don't bleed anymore. Follow these simple steps in flossing to effectively take care of your teeth and gums:
  • Cut about 18 inches of your dental floss.
  • Hold on to both ends and place floss in between teeth.
  • Gently rub the floss to remove particles.
  • When the gum reaches the gum line, follow the contour of the tooth.
  • Rub it again in an up and down motion by pulling both sides of the string.
  • Repeat on the rest of your teeth.
The good thing about flossing is that you can do it anytime of the day and in any place you're comfortable to do it in. You can start flossing as an adult and still save your gums from damage. Along with good dental health care, having a regular appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist can help you spot gum disease at an early stage. They can give you a professional and thorough examination on your current dental health and talk about ways that you can improve it.