Brushing alone won't remove the build-up of plaque under the gum line and between your teeth only flossing will do that. If left to accumulate, the 700 strains of bacteria that can exist in plaque can cause gum disease, or gingivitis, which affects an estimated 50 to 90 percent of the adult population. Untreated gum disease can become periodontitis, which eventually causes bone resorption and tooth loss. Once swelling starts in the mouth, it can quickly cause other serious health problems.
Knowing the harms of avoiding flossing may help you to develop this essential healthy habit.
- Cardiovascular Problems. Mouth inflammation can trigger the release of a large number of chemicals known as mediators, which are the same causes of the inflammation implicated in heart disease.
- Lung Disease. Poor oral health can also lead to a very serious condition called ventilator-associated pneumonia. "Dental plaque can cause the mouth to become a reservoir for pneumonia-causing organisms that can pass through the airways and the tubes of a ventilator. There is also evidence of a risk of more standard forms of pneumonia," says Ian Needleman, professor of restorative dentistry at the UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London. [source: TheIndependent]
- Diabetes. Another study published by researchers at the University of Edinburgh appeared to confirm a suspected link between gum disease and diabetes. People with diabetes are known to be at high risk for gum disease, but it hasnt been clear which comes first. The researchers at Columbia Universitys Mailman School of Public Health found that individuals with elevated levels of periodontal disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within 20 years, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity and diet. [source: Well]
- Dementia And Old Age Memory Loss Research conducted at the University of California showed that elderly people who did not brush and floss at least once per day were up to 65 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed and flossed twice daily. [source: PRweb]
The exact connection between flossing and serious health conditions is still uncertain and controversial, but good oral health is an important indicator for the bodys overall health. If you are having trouble creating the habit of flossing your teeth, read this helpful article: The Tiny Guide to Creating the Flossing Habit.
Gum disease only becomes apparent to most patients at a later stage, so make sure you pay attention to your dental health and stay on track with regular dental appointments. Whatever its damaging effects, gum disease is not only preventable but usually easily treatable. It is never too late to begin improving your dental health.
Dr. James Kearney is a general dentist in Colorado Springs and the owner of Austin Bluffs Dental.