If you’ve ever watched the television show, Survivor, you’ve seen people scraping their teeth with twigs. Contestants do this because their time in the wilderness keeps them far from luxuries, such as toothbrushes and dental floss. Rubbing their pearly whites with sticks is actually a great substitute for regular dental care. But if you’re home, you probably have access to more effective and modern dental hygiene tools. One of the most important of these is floss.
Dental Floss Definition
A thin cord of filaments, dental floss is widely believed to prevent gingivitis and eliminate plaque. And while many people avoid flossing their teeth, dentists more often recommend flossing even than brushing, although both are recommended for optimal oral care. The American Dental Association (ADA) asserts that dental floss is an “essential part of taking care of teeth and gums.”
History of Dental Floss
Most people give credit for the invention of dental floss to a New Orleans dentist, who, in 1815, advised patients to use a thin silk thread to clean between their teeth. The idea caught on. And, in 1882, a company based in Randolph, Massachusetts, started marketing the first commercial unwaxed silk dental floss. This was followed in 1896 by another version created by Johnson & Johnson. In fact, the company took out a patent for dental floss in 1898, which was made from the same silk material used by doctors for stitches.
By the 1940’s, nylon replaced silk, which reduced the cost while simultaneously improving texture and resistance to shredding. The use of nylon also allowed for the development of waxed iterations in the 1940s, and for the development of dental tape in the 1950s.
Dental Floss Today
In the intervening years, types of dental floss have evolved to include materials such as Gore-Tex, as well as spongy and soft versions. And today’s floss offers other features to make dental care easier. For example, flossing with stiffened ends helps people who have braces or other dental appliances. Today, dentists recommend flossing at least once a day, in addition to brushing twice a day and using mouthwash on a regular basis, for optimal dental health.
Dental Floss Benefits
- Eliminates Halitosis (Bad Breath)
Flossing is one of the tools that keeps bad breath at bay. When food gets trapped between teeth, decay begins. Failure to remove food particles can cause foul-smelling breath. Also, if plaque builds up around or between teeth, it starts eroding tooth enamel. It can also cause cavities and gum disease, which further contribute to halitosis.
- Eliminates Plaque
A colorless sticky film that results when bacteria releases acids that attack tooth enamel. If you fail to brush your teeth, this bacteria and resulting acid mix together to form a film of plaque around teeth and gumline and can lead to cavities. Furthermore, when plaque builds up, it can harden and turn into tartar, which increases the risk of gum disease. Regular flossing is beneficial because it helps remove food particles as well as plaque, before they can morph into tartar and damage teeth.
- May Help Heart Health
Good dental hygiene benefits not only teeth and gums. It may also improve heart health. In fact, studies show that people who commit to a high standard of oral hygiene faced a decreased risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. The American Heart Association claims that there is a significant connection between oral and heart health.
- Prevent Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. One of the first signs is inflammation around gums. Gums may also bleed. Untreated gingivitis can lead serious mouth infections known as periodontitis. When this occurs, gums recede or pull away from your teeth. Your teeth may lose bone support and become loose. If not treated, periodontitis can cause an inflammatory response throughout the entire body.
- Reduces the Risk of Cavities
Tooth decay can lead to cavaties, which are tiny openings or holes in the hard surface of teeth. Although the process takes time, the more plaque on the enamel of your teeth, the higher the associated risk of developing a cavity. Flossing between your teeth at least once a day can help get rid of hidden food particles and plaque buildup and lower your risk of tooth decay.
About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California
Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.