Does flossing really make a difference?

Sure does! Looking for a New Year's Resolution to add to your list that's super simple and will improve your overall health? Make 2011 the year you commit to flossing your teeth every day! Your dental hygienist speaks the truth. Flossing makes a big difference. Daily flossing helps to prevent gum disease. Flossing also removes plaque, prevents cavities and benefits your overall oral health by removing the bacteria that gets between teeth and can cause infection in your mouth and body. Some adults floss daily, but most don't.

Dental hygienists will tell you that they can tell if you're a regular flosser or not, based on a visual examination of your teeth at routine cleanings. Faithful daily flossers typically have shorter and easier dental hygiene visits because of the work they've done at home between visits. They also typically have fewer cavities, less gum disease and better overall health in general.

If you are one of the many people who do not floss your teeth every day, consider this. Would you wash only one side of your dishes after dinner, and then put them back in the cupboard to use again tomorrow? Most of us would cringe at this thought. However, when you don't floss your teeth, you're leaving up to 35% of your tooth surfaces untouched and uncleaned. Even the highest quality toothbrush bristles cannot reach completely between teeth. A high-performance, shred-resistant floss is designed to slide easily and comfortably into the tightest spaces and remove bacteria and debris.

Now that you have good motivation to floss your teeth daily, here's how. When sliding the floss in, take care not to snap it down on the gums. Instead, move it up and down along the sides of each tooth, making certain to clean below the gumline. You should also take a moment to check your gums for symptoms of gum disease, such as soreness, puffiness, bleeding and redness. Healthy gums don't bleed. If you think any of these signs are present, see your dentist right away.

Cavities between baby molars of in school age children are very common, often due to poor or infrequent flossing. Taking steps to prevent this tooth decay is very important to your child's health. Parents should help younger children to floss their teeth each day. There are many child-friendly home hygiene tools available, such as Kids Sonicare Toothbrushes to make brushing easier for kids to do well, as well as colorful "flossers" to make flossing more fun and easier for small hands. Developing good at-home dental hygiene routines early on can help establish healthy habits that last a lifetime.