Every time we go to the dentist we are reminded about not flossing our teeth (unless you are one of the rare people that actually flosses). Often we will keep the routine up for a week or two before it falls to the wayside. Despite the norm of neglecting flossing, it is actually extremely important and it may be something to reexamine.

What exactly is floss? Dental floss is a tool used to remove food and bacteria build-up from in-between the teeth. It is used to clean in the gaps which are not reachable with regular tooth brushing. Brushing can clean the surface of your teeth but flossing is important to prevent plaque build-up in the hard to reach places. Plaque build-up can lead not only to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease, but also general bad breath.

So how often should you floss? It is more important to take your time and floss correctly than it is to floss often. It is good practice to floss at least once a day very slowly to make sure you clean your entire mouth. Flossing at all is obviously better than never, but if you don’t floss every day, you won’t reap all of the benefits it provides.

The biggest advantage of flossing is a vague one. It keeps your teeth from falling out! It does this in a multitude of ways. As stated earlier, flossing helps prevent cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease, all of which will eventually lead to your teeth falling out. The problem with not flossing is that it isn’t just food that gets stuck in-between your teeth, but also plaque and bacteria. This plaque build-up makes homes for bacteria which lead to these gum diseases such as gingivitis.

An unexpected benefit, flossing may actually help prevent heart disease. Many studies have shown a link between gum disease and serious medical conditions including heart disease. The cause of this is unknown, but there are a couple known contributors. When you’re immune system is down, it is dangerous to let bacteria get into your system which is possible through bleeding gums. To prevent this, the number one way to remove bacteria from your mouth is through flossing.

Another benefit of flossing is that it can get rid of dry mouth. Saliva acts as a natural disinfectant in your mouth and without it bacteria can affect your health more easily. Most medications cause dry mouth and most people are on some sort of medication. Regular flossing can help prevent dry mouth by scraping off the bacteria that would have had to use saliva to take care of.

There are many benefits to flossing and many harms in not flossing. With regular flossing you can avoid gum disease and other costly teeth problems like cavities as well as improve your overall health and comfort. Without flossing you put yourself at risk of serious illness and can end up costing yourself a lot of money in dental appointments and treatments.

Though flossing is tedious and easily forgotten, it is more important than the majority of people realize and should be implemented in you daily routine.