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Are you one of the 25 per cent of Canadians who don't floss their teeth? Then maybe you should invest in some of the money-saving string.
Flossing helps prevent gum disease, says Tuyet Le, a registered dental hygienist at Atlantis Dental in Vancouver. Gum disease occurs when bacteria accumulate in between the teeth and underneath the gums. Flossing once a day, preferably at night, can help prevent this. Le explains why flossing should be a part of everyone's daily dental hygiene routine.
1. Flossing will stop your gums from bleeding
A common complaint people have about flossing it that it makes their gums bleed. But not flossing could make the situation far worse. Inflammation from bacteria causes the bleeding, but if you keep at your flossing for two weeks the bleeding will stop, reassures Le.
Hold the floss in a C-shape and slide it back and forth in between your teeth. Be sure to hug the floss against each tooth to minimize trauma to your gums should the floss snap. If you floss straight up and down, you risk cutting your gums.
2. Flossing helps minimize bad breath
A lot of the bacteria that cause gum disease create an odour if they start to colonize in between your teeth and underneath your gums. If you minimize or eliminate the signs of gum disease, chances are your breath will smell better. Instead of stocking up on breath mints, up your flossing.
3. Flossing regularly will prevent tooth loss
When you don't clear out the bacteria in between your teeth and underneath your gums, your immune system releases enzymes to destroy the bacteria. These enzymes end up harming the bone surrounding the area, which explains why you may end up losing your teeth when you're older.
''The bone levels in between the teeth become less and less until the tooth has no more bone to support it, so it falls out,” says Le. ''This is why you sometimes see older people with teeth that appear longer or skinnier.”
4. Flossing saves you money
It's simple: healthy teeth mean fewer cavities and less gum disease, which, in turn, mean fewer cleanings and less of a chance of tooth loss.
''If you lose a tooth, you'll have to spend money for things like a partial denture, bridge or implant,” says Le.
5. Flossing could reduce birth risks
A woman's hormones change when she's pregnant, making her gums more sensitive. She's no longer just flossing for one: ''If a woman who is pregnant has gum disease, the bacteria that cause it can enter her blood stream and go through the placenta,” says Le , adding that not flossing puts a child at risk for preterm birth and low birth weight.