Woman flossingThe American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) recently surveyed Americans about a number of oral health-related topics, including flossing. They found that more than a quarter (27%) lied to their dentist about flossing.

The survey asked the question of more than 2000 individuals in the top 10 US markets (probably not including Corpus Christi), and was administered online. Although this lying segment of the population is significantly fewer than the proportion of people who lie in a typical 10-minute conversation, it’s still way too high. Here are four reasons not to lie to your dentist about flossing.

Serious Consequences of Not Flossing

The first reason not to lie to your dentist about flossing is that it’s important that you floss to maintain your oral health. Flossing helps remove plaque from between your teeth and around the gum line, where your toothbrush can’t reach.

If you don’t floss, bacterial plaque builds up in these areas. As it grows, it creates more space where anaerobic bacteria can live. These bacteria don’t like oxygen–it’s usually toxic to them–so they like places where there’s no oxygen. And instead of breathing oxygen, they use sulfur to digest their food, which means they give off stinky sulfur-based chemicals, so the first consequence of not flossing is bad breath.

The second consequence of not flossing is that you can develop cavities in hard-to-reach places. These cavities are not only hard to detect, they’re hard to fill, so in order to treat them, your dentist might need to do a lot of extra drilling, and you might need a dental crown rather than a tooth-colored filling.

And it’s not just your teeth that are damaged by this buildup of bacteria. As bacteria grow along the gum line, they can colonize the space between your teeth and gums, and their acidic secretions can damage your gums, resulting in gum disease, receding gums, and even tooth loss.

Your Dentist Likely Knows the Difference

Morality aside, there’s one kind of lie you should never tell: the one that will get found out. And lying about flossing is one of the easiest ones for your dentist to see through. You might think a couple weeks of flossing every day before you have your dental checkup would hide the fact that you haven’t been flossing.

But your dentist can tell the difference. When you don’t remove plaque right away, it turns into a hard substance called tartar. This can’ t be removed by brushing or flossing, and tells your dentist how much you’ve really been flossing over the last few weeks.

Your dentist can also see the damage done to your teeth and gums. So don’t bother sullying your conscience with this lie.

We Don’t Judge

The kind of lie you mostly shouldn’t tell is the one where the truth won’t be held against you. Our dentist and hygienists don’t judge you for your flossing habits. We will encourage good oral hygiene habits, but we’re not going to tell you you’re a bad person for not flossing.

Flossing Is Easy

Here’s the thing: there’s no need to lie about flossing if you just go ahead and floss. And there’s no reason not to, because it’s easy. It just takes a couple minutes and if you do it every day, you will be happy you did. Here’re some basic tips for flossing properly:

  • Use 18 inches of floss or a prethreaded flosser
  • For floss: wrap floss around the middle fingers of each hand
  • For flosser: make sure you have a good grip on the flosser, and place a finger on the back of the flosser head to give yourself good pressure
  • Work the floss back and forth to ease it gently between teeth
  • Put the floss up against first one tooth then the other, making sure the floss curves around each tooth.
  • For floss: move on to a new section for each pair of teeth
  • For flosser: wipe off the thread each time you remove it from between your teeth
  • Don’t forget to floss the back of your last teeth

During your next checkup, we can help you learn how to properly floss your teeth as well as make sure that previous flossing has protected your teeth adequately. To schedule an appointment with a Corpus Christi dentist, please call (361) 851-8274 for an appointment at the Corpus Christi Center for Cosmetic Dentistry.