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Did you know that most people brush their teeth twice daily, as recommended by their dentists?  However, a study done by the CDC reported that just under 35% of Americans floss in addition to brushing their teeth twice daily.  Make no mistake, daily flossing is also recommended by dentists.  So, with many folks ignoring this critical step in oral hygiene, a question needs to be asked…What happens if you don’t floss?  Even though this answer can vary from patient to patient, the results of not flossing are never pleasant.  Read further as we discuss the unfortunate side effects of not flossing daily.  

The Buildup of Plaque and Tartar

As mentioned above, most people have no problem completing the “brush your teeth twice daily” recommendation.  Following this recommendation is the first step to excellent oral hygiene.  However, there are only so many spots your toothbrush can reach.  It is important to use floss as a way to get to those hard to reach spots.  

Teeth have five surfaces that need to be brushed and they are as follows…the front and the back, the chewing surface, and the two sides of the tooth.  A toothbrush is effective with cleaning the front, back, and surfaces of your teeth.  But, a toothbrush can’t clean in between the teeth, and that is where floss comes in, using it is the only way to target those tight spaces.  Without the use of floss, it is only a matter of time before plaque starts to build up.  

Plaque is not good for the teeth because it is a sticky film of bacteria that coats the surface of the teeth.  Plaque contributes to bad breath, and can erode the enamel, or surface of teeth.  

Also, when plaque is not taken care of, eventually it turns into tartar.  Tartar traps food in hard to reach places, which makes it even more difficult to effectively clean your teeth.  And, tartar needs to be removed by a dentist, who has the right equipment to scrape it off.  

Cavities Start to Form

If plaque turns to tartar, then tartar can turn into cavities.  Cavities are tiny holes in the tooth, and they need to be filled by a dentist.  As we all know, having a cavity filled by a dentist is not the most pleasant experience.  But, it can be avoided by flossing daily.  

Next Stop: Gingivitis

Did you know that not flossing also affects your gums?  When plaque is not removed, the gums inside your mouth get red, sore, and inflamed with gingivitis.  If left untreated, gingivitis will worsen over time.  

Then Comes Periodontis

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into a condition called periodontitis.  This is an advanced form of gum disease.  Periodontis can cause pain as the bacteria starts to eat away at the gums and the bone that hold the teeth in place.  This can make the gums recede so much that the roots of your teeth are exposed.  When periodontitis reaches this point, the only option to fix it is surgery.  

Finally There is Tooth Loss

If you suffer from cavities or tooth decay your dentist may have to extract the problem teeth. If the periodontitis you suffer from is severe, your teeth may fall out on their own.   

From here you can replace one or two lost teeth with a dental bridge or implant.  However, if you have experienced significant tooth loss, the only option left may be dentures.  

Complications and Infections

Poor oral hygiene can impact the health of the rest of the body.  Not flossing contributes to bacteria buildup that can turn into gum disease.  Inflammation of the mouth can increase your risk of other conditions like stroke, arthritis, and heart disease.  It can make a pre-existing condition like diabetes even worse.  

Also, when you have a mouth full of bacteria, gum disease, and tooth decay it can be vulnerable to other conditions. Say you sustain a cut on the inside of the mouth.  This can be enough to lead to mouth infections, and abscesses.  Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, but it can turn into a dangerous situation fast.  Oral infections do not always stay contained to the mouth.  In fact, they can spread throughout the rest of the body.  Having an infection like that spread can cause serious illnesses that could require hospitalization.  

These grave complications can be avoided with good oral hygiene habits.  That means, brush and floss daily.  See a dentist for annual checkups. And if you do start to exhibit any of the symptoms we discussed like tartar formation, gum disease or loose teeth, see your dentist ASAP! Do not delay on seeing a dental professional because it may get worse before it gets better.  Now, please…start flossing your teeth.

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