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Do you avoid flossing? If dental floss won't fit between your teeth easily or you find the entire process uncomfortable or time consuming, you may not floss as often as you should. Failing to floss can be a contributing factor in bad breath and may increase your risk of cavities and gum disease. Luckily, there are a few flossing alternatives that will help you keep your smile healthy.
Plaque and Tartar Builds Up When You Don't Floss
Dental floss removes food particles that get stuck between your teeth, but that's not the only benefit. Every day, colorless plaque covers your teeth in a sticky bacterial film. If you happen to take a bite of a sugary snack, bacteria and sugar combine together to produce strong acids that destroy tooth enamel. Cookies or candy aren't the only foods that trigger the chemical reaction. Foods like potato chips, bread, and pretzels contain carbohydrates that are converted into sugars.
Brushing your teeth removes plaque from most teeth surfaces but doesn't touch plaque between teeth. If you don't floss, you increase the risk of developing cavities in these areas. Failure to floss regularly also makes it more likely that tartar will form between teeth. Tartar, a hard deposit that can only be removed with dental instruments, forms when you don't remove plaque promptly.
If you have tartar, you'll notice an unsightly brown or gray build up on your teeth, usually near the gum line. Tartar doesn't just mar your smile, but is also responsible for causing gum disease.
Dentists recommend flossing at least once per day to remove plaque and prevent tartar from forming. Unfortunately, too many of us don't follow that recommendation. Only four in 10 Americans floss once a day and 20 percent never floss, according to a Delta Dental research study. Although you might not develop tooth decay if you occasionally forget to floss, skipping flossing often can harm your teeth and gums.
Floss Isn't the Only Tool You Can Use to Clean Between Teeth
When cleaning your teeth with dental floss isn't an option, try one or more of these popular flossing alternatives:
Daily flossing and regular professional dental cleanings can help your smile stay healthy. If it's been a while since you've had an exam and cleaning, call us today to schedule an appointment.
Delta Dental: Survey Finds Shortcomings in Oral Health Habits, 9/23/14
American Dental Association: Flossing
Colgate: Flossing Alternatives on the Go
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