Most people appreciate the benefits of brushing their teeth – fresh breath, fewer cavities and whiter teeth – but misconceptions about flossing are common. What can a bit of string between your teeth really accomplish?

Flossing teeth doesn’t just remove uncomfortable debris from lunch. It removes a fine layer of bacteria known as the biofilm from between your teeth and beneath the gum line. Imagine sweeping your home without moving the furniture. Sure, everyone is guilty of this now and again, but applying that mentality to your teeth has far worse consequences. While plaque on teeth can cause painful and unsightly cavities, it is the bacteria lurking beneath the gum line that can actually cause teeth to become loose.

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It occurs when bacteria below the gum line cause the body to react to an infection with inflammation. The gums become red and swollen, but usually there is no pain. This condition is reversible by simply removing the source of the infection with proper brushing, flossing and regular professional cleanings. It is worth noting that many people, intuitively so, will avoid brushing or flossing an area where the gums appear inflamed or are bleeding slightly. However, it is very important to give these areas special attention, flossing and brushing them thoroughly. Within a few days the gingivitis will heal with no lasting effects.

When gingivitis is allowed to persist, the infection and inflammation can cause soft tissue and bone to recede. This is known as attachment loss, or periodontitis. Left unchecked, this disease will allow even cavity-free teeth to become irreversibly loose and eventually fall out completely. Often pain free, it is unfortunately common for patients to ignore the symptoms for far too long.

Periodontitis affects more than just gums, bone and teeth. Consider the fact that spaces between gum tissue and teeth are openings into the body. Chronic inflammation and receding gums allow these “pockets” to become deeper, introducing bacteria and their toxic byproducts into the bloodstream. In fact, advanced periodontitis can be as infectious as an open wound about the size of the palm of your hand. When pockets form, it is impossible to clean them at home. Specialized dental instruments used in professional cleaning are necessary to clean out plaque and bacteria safely and effectively.

While the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth cannot be restored, there are treatment options available for patients with periodontitis. The first line of defense against gingivitis and periodontitis is quality, consistent home care and regular dental checkups. Brushing and flossing twice every day help to remove the biofilm that naturally forms between our teeth and beneath our gum line. In the event of periodontitis, more frequent professional cleanings followed by routine home care can help to minimize further bone loss and the receding of gum tissue. Advanced gum disease can be treated surgically to reduce the depth of the pockets between the gums and teeth.

Cleaning between your teeth and beneath the gum line is just as important as brushing the areas you can see and feel. Although regular flossing is seen by many as tedious, it is an essential part of personal oral hygiene. Clearly that little bit of string can accomplish quite a lot!

Most people appreciate the benefits of brushing their teeth – fresh breath, fewer cavities and whiter teeth – but misconceptions about flossing are common. What can a bit of string between your teeth really accomplish?

Flossing teeth doesn’t just remove uncomfortable debris from lunch. It removes a fine layer of bacteria known as the biofilm from between your teeth and beneath the gum line. Imagine sweeping your home without moving the furniture. Sure, everyone is guilty of this now and again, but applying that mentality to your teeth has far worse consequences. While plaque on teeth can cause painful and unsightly cavities, it is the bacteria lurking beneath the gum line that can actually cause teeth to become loose.

McMurray Cosmetic Dentist Gum Disease

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It occurs when bacteria below the gum line cause the body to react to an infection with inflammation. The gums become red and swollen, but usually there is no pain. This condition is reversible by simply removing the source of the infection with proper brushing, flossing and regular professional cleanings. It is worth noting that many people, intuitively so, will avoid brushing or flossing areas where the gums appear inflamed or are bleeding slightly. However, it is very important to give these areas special attention, flossing and brushing them thoroughly. Within a few days the gingivitis will heal with no lasting effects.

When gingivitis is allowed to persist, the infection and inflammation can cause soft tissue and bone to recede. This is known as attachment loss, or periodontitis. Left unchecked, this disease will allow even cavity-free teeth to become irreversibly loose and eventually fall out completely. Often pain free, it is unfortunately common for patients to ignore the symptoms for far too long.

Periodontitis affects more than just gums, bone and teeth. Consider the fact that spaces between gum tissue and teeth are openings into the body. Chronic inflammation and receding gums allow these “pockets” to become deeper, introducing bacteria and their toxic byproducts into the bloodstream. In fact, advanced periodontitis can be as infectious as an open wound about the size of the palm of your hand. When pockets form, it is impossible to clean them at home. Specialized dental instruments used in professional cleaning are necessary to clean out plaque and bacteria safely and effectively.

While the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth cannot be restored, there are treatment options available for patients with periodontitis. The first line of defense against gingivitis and periodontitis is quality, consistent home care and regular dental checkups. Brushing and flossing twice every day help to remove the biofilm that naturally forms between our teeth and beneath our gum line. In the event of periodontitis, more frequent professional cleanings followed by routine home care can help to minimize further bone loss and the receding of gum tissue.� Advanced gum disease can be treated surgically to reduce the depth of the pockets between the gums and teeth.

Cleaning between your teeth and beneath the gum line is just as important as brushing the areas you can see and feel. Although regular flossing is seen by many as tedious, it is an essential part of personal oral hygiene. Clearly that little bit of string can accomplish quite a lot!

Dr. Jay M. Feuer DDS, MAGD