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By Traci Guthrie

Floss for oral and overall health

Nothing makes a great first impression like a beautiful, white smile. This is why proper dental care is essential, especially flossing. Let's face it, flossing is not exactly a favorite pastime for anyone. However, the American Dental association recommends that it be done at least once a day. Unfortunately flossing is often overlooked either because it is forgotten, or it isn't recognized that it is not only important for one's dental health, but overall health as well.

What happens if you don't floss?

The first step to having a great smile is brushing your teeth. Brushing cleans the surface of your teeth, but what it doesn't do is clean between your teeth. Without flossing, food and other particles between the teeth can build up eventually resulting in:

  • Plaque and tartar build up
  • Cavities
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum Disease
  • Eventual tooth loss
  • An unsightly smile

More serious, long term problems that stem from an unhealthy mouth are:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory illness
  • High body mass index

How to floss

With a little dedication, flossing doesn't have to viewed as dreaded chore. Learning to floss is a fairly simple task, and most floss packaging comes with instructions. You can also follow these basic steps:

  • Use enough dental floss, usually around 18 inches
  • Wrap most of the dental floss around whichever fingers you are comfortable with on one hand
  • Slide the floss between teeth. Move the dental floss between the teeth in a back and forth motion.
  • Curve the floss gently in a C-shape around the bottom of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line.
  • Replace floss as needed.
  • To remove the floss, use the same back and forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth.

If you think that you will have trouble flossing with traditional floss, talk to the dentist about these alternatives:

  • Plastic, disposable flossers that allow for extra reach
  • Small, round brushes
  • Pointed, rubber tips
  • Wooden or plastic pics

Be honest with your dentist

Chances are that when you are in the dentist's chair, you will be asked if you floss. You can proudly say that you do, sheepishly admit that you don't, or try to pull a fast one and lie, saying that you do. No matter your answer, your dentist will know the truth. Dentists can easily see during an examination if you have plaque build up along your gum line or between your teeth. Don't be scared to talk to him or her about you concerns. They will happily help you come up with a way to implement flossing into your daily routine. Your dental health is their main concern after all.

No more excuses

With the American Dental Association recommending that children start flossing by the age of 11, and that adults and children floss at least once a day, it is more important than ever to be educated on the risks associated with not flossing. And who can forget the benefit? A gorgeous smile! With the right information and tools in hand, talking to your dentist and making flossing apart of your daily routine will soon become second nature.

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