You wouldn’t wash only one side of a dirty dish, and then put it back in the cupboard to use again tomorrow, would you? When you brush your teeth, you’re only washing half of the surfaces of your teeth, front and back. You’re neglecting the two sides your toothbrush doesn’t touch. This leaves the sides of your teeth and the area near the gum line dirty, like only washing one side of a dish.
Flossing your teeth is the way to get into these “nooks and crannies,” which need to be kept clean just as much as the rest of your teeth for good oral health. If you don’t floss, the areas between your teeth and underneath your gums begin to breed bacteria, and eventually plaque — both of which love to hide and cause problems.
Yet some dentist are actually saying it’s bad for your teeth. They claim flossing requires a high level of dexterity to manipulate the floss in the mouth – particularly towards the back of the mouth – and the vast majority of people simply don’t have that degree of dexterity. Instead of removing plaque, too many people are simply pushing the plaque that is between their teeth down underneath the gums and leaving it there — which is the last thing you want to do.
Let’s put this way of thinking to rest. First, if you are worried that you could be flossing wrong, just consult with the dental hygienist on the proper way to floss. There are too many benefits to flossing. flossing breaks up plaque bacterial biofilm on your teeth. If this bacteria-ridden biofilm is allowed to remain on your teeth, it colonizes and actually changes the chemistry of your mouth, making it possible for “pathogens” to survive. This puts you at risk for developing an infection, and possibly disease of the structures in your mouth that support your teeth. Not flossing leaves you vulnerable to gum infection (gingivitis), which can lead to gum disease (periodontitis) and eventually cause tooth loss.
In addition: Extensive research has shown that the bacteria that flourish in an unhealthy mouth can harm the rest of the body, leading to heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illness. This is such a significant issue that, in 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began calling for public health initiatives to address oral health as a step toward addressing these potentially life-threatening systemic diseases: conditions that affect multiple organs and body systems [sources: CDC, CDA].
In the end, any dentist that tells you it’s a bad idea to floss, it may be time to shop around for a different dentist. The extensive research as well as common sense proves that flossing is a necessity in oral health care.