Flossing your teeth is as important as brushing them. Not flossing your teeth can lead to major dental and overall health problems. Teaching your children how to floss is a critical part of teaching them healthy habits for life.
Does Everyone Floss?
Sadly, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and reported in US News & World Report found that only about one-third of adult Americans floss every day. Another third admitted that they never floss and the last group said they floss sometimes but not regularly.
While this study focused on adults, it’s likely that parents who floss also ensure their children floss, too. Parents who skip the nightly flossing routine probably don’t teach their children to do it either. Habits learned in childhood easily transfer over to adulthood, so making flossing part of a daily routine when they are young will help it remain a habit into adulthood.
Why is Flossing Important?
Your teeth have small crevices in between them. Your toothbrush alone cannot remove the small particles of food that get trapped there. Leftover food creates colonies of bacteria that begin to live and breed in those small spaces between your teeth. This bacteria can cause gum disease and inflammation of the gums.
Additionally, that bacteria that begins to thrive between your teeth (called plaque) will begin to harden and turn into tarter.
Medical Problems Can Occur
Not flossing on a regular basis creates problems in your mouth: cavities, gingivitis, bad breath, gum and bone deterioration, potential tooth loss and periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth and can have far-reaching side effects in more than your mouth.
Poor oral health, that is to say not brushing and flossing on a regular basis, can lead to systemic diseases throughout the body. Studies have shown that gum disease may be linked to cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, stroke and even pre-term births.
Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream, eventually making its way to your heart where it can contribute to the formation of blood clots. People with gum disease are nearly three times as likely to suffer from heart disease.
Adults and children who are diabetic are more prone to periodontal disease, dry mouth and infections that can put them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. This proves it is even more critical that children who are diabetic or otherwise at high risk should make flossing a part of their daily routine.
Teach Your Kids How to Floss
The general rule is that flossing should start as soon as kids teeth begin to touch. Flossing can be challenging for children to master. At young ages, they don’t have to dexterity to manipulate floss inside their mouths. Small hand-held flossers are now widely available and are often a better option for children.
Education of why flossing is important is another conversation to have with your children. Remember that flossing your teeth is as important as brushing them. The more information we can provide them to support the “why do I have to floss” question will empower them to understand that the health of their teeth affects their health of their whole body.
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