Most people have tried it at least once: you realize your twice-a-year cleaning and exam with your dentist at Fairfax Station happens in a few days, and as usual, you have not been flossing. So for the next two to three days, you start using the floss every day, possibly even after every meal, in an attempt to break up the clusters of harmful bacteria that grow between your teeth and gums.
And every year, your dentist looks in your mouth and says, “still not flossing, I see.”
There are a few reasons this technique doesn’t work. And let’s be honest, you’re not surprised that it doesn’t. You know you need to floss more often, that you haven’t, and that what you try to do beforehand is basically the grown-up version of starting your homework on the bus to school. So let’s agree that you need to make more of an effort to floss daily, and move on.
The reason your dentist can tell when you’re not flossing is that failing to floss leads to gingivitis, which is very easy for a dentist to see. Gingivitis has clear symptoms, including:
- Red or bleeding gums
- Gums receding from the teeth
- Swollen or tender gums
- Bad breath
Your gums won’t bleed all the time with gingivitis, but a thorough cleaning from a dental professional will definitely do the trick. If your dentist probes your gums and a few drops of blood start welling out, it’s a dead giveaway. Dentists are also more likely to notice receding gums than you are, because they’re trained to look for the signs.
“But what about bad breath?” you’re probably asking. “I don’t have bad breath.” Um, are you sure about that? It’s possible that you’ve just gotten used to the smell of your own breath. Ask a family member to help you judge, and be sure to thank them (or to apologize, depending on the result).
With regular flossing, brushing, and dental checkups, you can get rid of the symptoms of gingivitis. But you have to be doing it for at least two weeks for all the signs to disappear. And if you floss every day for two weeks in a row, just keep doing it! It’s become part of your daily routine at that point.
Regular dental cleanings are also essential to prevent gingivitis. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Pamela Marzban at her office, near Fairfax Station, by calling 703-349-4277 today. Don’t try to trick her by flossing right before your appointment.