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Did You Forget to Floss? How Gum Disease May Lead to Dementia | Family Dentistry, Wichita, Kansas

Family Dentistry in Wichita
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Flossing is an essential oral health practice that should be incorporated into your daily hygiene routine to prevent cavities and other diseases in areas where your toothbrush can’t reach. If you forget to floss daily, tooth decay and gum disease may develop due to plaque build-up on the teeth and along the gum line. In recent years, studies have begun exploring the effects of poor flossing habits, further than just bad breath or cavities, and examining the impact of flossing on brain health, begging the question, can gum disease lead to dementia? Our team at Cambridge Family Dentistry in Wichita, Kansas, has outlined the importance of flossing and the potential consequences of forgetting to floss below.

  • Importance of Flossing

    Consistent flossing removes daily plaque hiding in the small, hard-to-reach crevices inside your mouth and between your teeth. Your dentist has likely stressed the importance of flossing, but have they explained the full benefits of flossing each day? While you may think brushing your teeth with a quality electric toothbrush is sufficient for your oral health, check out some of the added benefits of incorporating flossing into your daily routine!

    Gum Disease Prevention—Plaque on your teeth and around your gum line may eventually lead to gum disease as research shows that the bacteria found in plaque creates an inflammatory response. To combat the effects of gum disease, such as bleeding or receding gums or tooth and bone loss, it is important to floss between your teeth and along the gum line thoroughly.

    Reduced Chance of Heart Disease—Believe it or not, gum disease can affect your possibility of developing heart disease, with individuals experiencing gum disease 20 percent more likely to develop heart disease. Many researchers attribute this correlation to the narrowing of the arteries that eventually leads to cardiovascular disease.

    Fresh Breath—Toothpaste is not the only product that leads to fresher smelling breath; floss has the same rewarding benefits. Not only is floss available in a variety of scents, but it works to remove trapped particles of food that can lead to rather unpleasant breath.

  • Forgetting To Floss

    The mouth houses over 700 different species of bacteria, including varieties that can cause periodontal (gum) disease, a result of an oral tissue infection, which causes bleeding gums, loose teeth, and sometimes tooth loss. The bacteria and inflammatory molecules produced by this gum disease can evolve from oral infections, traveling through the bloodstream to the brain, causing many scientists to examine the relationship between gum disease and dementia.

    In a recent study published by Science Advances, researchers analyzed brain tissue, spinal fluid, and saliva in both dead and living patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, finding the same bacteria associated with chronic gum disease (Porphyromonas gingivalis) in the brain of individuals with Alzheimer’s. Additional testing revealed the capability of bacteria traveling directly from the mouth to the brain, with gingipain toxic protein destroying brain neurons and increasing the production of amyloid beta, a component of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. Once in the brain, the bacteria release enzymes called gingipains that can destroy nerve cells, leading to memory loss and eventually Alzheimer’s. While it is still not evident what role gum disease plays in the development of Alzheimer’s, it is important to practice good oral hygiene.

  • How To Properly Floss

    Now that you know the importance of regular flossing, it’s time to learn how to floss your teeth properly! To reap the full benefits of flossing, it isn’t enough to simply floss, but you must know how to floss correctly to avoid damaging your teeth and gums during the process. If you are unsure of the correct way to clean in between your teeth, our experts at Cambridge Family Dentistry in Wichita recommend checking out our step-by-step guide to foolproof flossing below!

    1. Tear off 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from your dental floss spool and wind the majority of the floss around your two middle fingers, leaving only one to two inches of floss for your teeth.
    2. Hold the floss taut between your thumbs and index fingers.
    3. Slide the floss between two teeth and gently glide it up and down against both sides of each tooth. Avoid brushing the floss against your gums as it may cause scratching or bruising.
    4. When the floss reaches your gum line, curve the floss at the base of your tooth to create a “C” shape allowing the floss to enter the space between the gums and the tooth.
    5. Repeat the above steps, moving from tooth to tooth. With each new tooth, use a fresh, clean section of the floss.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in all articles published on the Cambridge Family Dentistry website do not necessarily reflect the views of our staff members at Cambridge Family Dentistry.

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