You know the first question you’ll get asked when you sit in the dental chair is “have you been flossing?”

The response that we most often hear, “Not as much as I should be”, and recently “wasn’t there an article in the paper that flossing doesn’t do anything anyway?

It may seem like flossing is not doing anything, however consider this…the tooth has five surfaces: biting surface, tongue side, cheek side and two surfaces facing the adjacent teeth. A brush will clean three out of the five surfaces, but cannot access 40% of the tooth surface. These are the areas where floss can reach and dislodge the plaque. If left uncleaned, the bacteria will cause your gums to become inflammed, leading to gum disease.

How do we know there’s gum disease present? When we look inside the mouth we look at the colour, contour and consistency of your gums. If you floss regularly we should see healthy pink gums with sharp edges that are not puffy or swollen. When we see swollen gums that bleed easily, it’s a sign of chronic inflammation which causes bone loss and gum recession.

This leads us to the next question “isn’t it normal for gums to receed as you age?” This is a myth. You can have healthy gums for life, if you take care of them. With healthy gums you can maintain a youthful appearance to your smile and also help support the bone around teeth.

So next time when your dentist or dental hygienist keeps saying the F word, remember it’s in your best interest to brush twice and floss once a day.

Abinaash Kaur DDS and Rajneet Thandi, RDH

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