Why You Need to Floss Your Teeth

Why You Need to Floss Your Teeth© George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Why floss?

If you’re following your dentist’s orders, you floss every day to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. But if you’ve noticed that flossing is causing your gums to bleed, it’s not a sign that you need to stop. It’s the opposite: Bleeding gums can be a sign that you have a bacterial infection that flossing will help get rid of. Research confirms that inflamed, infected gums are linked to heart disease, because chronic inflammation triggers the creation of immune-system chemicals in your bloodstream that contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries. If the bleeding doesn’t subside after a few days, check with your dentist since it could be a sign of serious gum disease.

How to do it:

Aggressive flossing can cause bleeding, so make sure you are flossing properly: Wind an 18-inch piece of floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Pinch the floss between the thumbs and index fingers, leaving 1 or 2 inches in between. Use your thumbs to gently guide the floss between your teeth, then move the floss up and down using a zigzag motion. Don’t snap the floss between your teeth.

Plus: 3 Surprising Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

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