Contemporary Dentistry

Dental Floss: A Good Ally Against Gum Disease

Red, swollen gums may be an early sign of gum disease. Oftentimes, gum disease has no symptoms at all until it reaches advanced stages. Your routine exams and cleanings are essential to avoiding gum disease, but equally important is your commitment to daily flossing. Unlike toothbrush bristles, floss reaches in between your teeth to clear away harmful bacteria collected in dental plaque.

Container with dental floss

Plaque: The Main Culprit in Gum Disease

A filmy substance known as dental plaque is the main cause of gum disease. Flossing prevents gum disease by reducing plaque harbored between your teeth. So why is plaque so bad for your gums? The film actually contains millions of bacteria, whose presence in your mouth is normal but can also infect and inflame the gum tissue. If allowed to remain in between your teeth, plaque begins destroying the gums, which causes the tissue to separate from your teeth, forming pockets. The bacteria will then invade these pockets and cause further tissue destruction. At its very worst stages, gum disease may destroy the bone supporting your teeth. Eventually, your teeth may feel loose and your gums will be visibly receded. Left untreated, your gum infection may ultimately lead to tooth loss.

Floss Daily To Reduce Tooth Plaque

Flossing once a day, every day can help you avoid gum disease. There are of course other factors that can contribute to gum disease, which you should discuss with our experienced dental team:

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Diabetes
  • Certain medications
  • Crooked teeth
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Advanced age

If you have any of these risk factors, you can discuss a management plan with our dentists. But flossing is a great way to avoid gum disease by disrupting the collection of bacteria in between your teeth. Brushing removes the plaque from the outer surfaces of your teeth, but you cannot effectively reach in between your teeth without floss or an interdental cleaner.

Flossing once a day is considered adequate by the American Dental Association. Although you could floss twice a day, such frequency may be too harsh on your gum tissue. Gently flossing once a day effectively reduces plaque without hurting your gums. For the best results, remember to gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, moving the floss into the area between the gum line and the side of the tooth.

If you believe you may be experiencing the symptoms of gum disease and if you live in the Rochester area, please call our dental team today, at (585) 244-3337, to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced dentists.