According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of all Americans claim to floss every day of the week.
People may forget or choose not to floss for a number of reasons, ranging from sensitive gums to a lack of time. Yet, dentists recommend brushing and flossing every day. What can happen when you don’t floss on a regular basis?
More Immediate Oral Issues
Believe it or not, the seemingly small task of flossing is crucial to maintaining good oral health. The longer you skip this part of your oral care routine, the more likely you could develop the following conditions.
Plaque and Tartar Buildup
After two weeks of not flossing, plaque and tartar will start to accumulate between your teeth. Brushing cleans the surface but cannot go in between teeth – that’s where flossing proves to be essential.
Plaque and tartar create a sticky, bacteria-laden, acidic film. It’s presence contributes to bad breath, affects your enamel and starts to harden, making it difficult to remove. This can pose challenges when cleaning your teeth at home and requires a dentist to dislodge.
Beyond the film on your teeth, plaque can progress below the gumline. It can irritate the gum tissue, resulting in redness, tenderness, swelling and bleeding. If you ignore this issue, you could be on the path to developing gingivitis, gum pockets and eventually gum disease, all of which require professional attention from a dentist.
Building off the progression of plaque, the early signs of gum disease involve tissue pulling away from the teeth, creating what are known as “gum pockets”, where bacteria gather outside the reach of your toothbrush.
From here, you may develop gingivitis, which is characterized by red, inflamed gums and eventually periodontitis, when bacteria travels deep below the gumline to the bones supporting your teeth. At this stage, you may experience receding gums and loose teeth.
Halitosis, or bad breath, can become particularly prominent when you don’t floss, as food particles remain in your mouth. The bacteria starts to break down these food fragments, generating sulfurous compounds that increase the resulting odor.
After months or years of inconsistent flossing, you have a higher risk of developing the following dental issues.
Plaque not only travels below the gumline but gradually eats through the enamel, resulting in tooth decay and eventually holes through the bone.
Unchecked periodontitis increases your risk of losing a tooth due to bacteria targeting the supporting bones. Inflammation causes the collagen and tissue attaching your teeth to break down.
Chronic, Unexplained Health Issues
More and more research shows that dental issues are not isolated to the mouth and may have a rippling effect through the body. The resulting inflammation and accumulating bacteria can contribute to:
- Increased weight gain
- A higher likelihood for dementia
- Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular issues
- Increased risk for Type II diabetes, which can accelerate tooth decay and loss
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Worsening chronic health issues
An infection that starts in your mouth won’t remain in one place. Instead, it may allow pathogens to enter and spread to your blood and brain. These infections, potentially starting from a gum abscess, require medical attention or they could become fatal.
Bone loss can progress to your jaw, resulting in atrophic areas. Missing or shifting teeth may require braces or more invasive medical procedures to correct.
To learn more about comprehensive dental exams and professional teeth cleaning, contact our Shelton office today!