Think you’ve got good oral hygiene because you brush your teeth twice a day? Think again.

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Did you know that not flossing could be causing serious harm – not only to your teeth and gums, but to your health, too?

Dr Laura Rouf, dentist for DenTek, highlights seven health problems that flossing can help avoid:

1. Flossing helps to prevent gum disease

“I always stress to my patients how critical flossing is to their hygiene routine at home. Nothing can clean inbetween the teeth like floss, and without it you are leaving your mouth prone to gum disease.”

2. Flossing helps prevent tooth decay

“Tooth decay can have very serious consequences, including pain, infection, and tooth loss. If left unchecked, it can even be fatal.

“Preventing tooth decay is easy with regular dental check-ups at cleaning, and solid at-home hygiene protocol including regular brushing and flossing. One-third of your tooth structure is in between the teeth - so if you aren’t flossing, that area isn’t being cleaned. Also, when decay starts in between the teeth, it usually causes two cavities, one on each tooth.

“By regularly removing food and bacteria from in-between the teeth, you’re preventing that decay from starting in those areas.”

3. Flossing can reduce the risk of heart disease

“An important thing to remember is that your mouth is connected to your body – it isn’t a separate thing. Research right now is focusing on the effects of gum disease on heart disease, diabetes, and even pregnant mothers.

“Flossing can reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth that can enter the bloodstream. This can trigger inflammation in the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart disease.”

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4. Flossing can make your smile look better and your teeth whiter

“Unhealthy gums are red and swollen. As it progresses, the gum starts to recede from the tooth and can expose the roots, which are more yellow.

“So unhealthy gums are very easy to see and can make your smile more yellow by exposing root areas. Flossing can prevent staining in the areas in between the teeth.”

5. Flossing improves the health of your gums

“Flossing is like going to the gym, if you go on a regular basis, your body is used to working out and doesn’t get extremely sore from a workout.

“When you floss daily, the gums get used to the sensation and are kept clean. If you don’t floss daily, when you do floss or have a cleaning, the gums will be sore and bleed easily because they aren’t used to it.”

6. Flossing can save you money

“Flossing can prevent tartar from building up between the teeth. Tartar can only be removed by your dentist. Save money on your dentist trips with regular flossing!”

7. Flossing can prevent bad breath

“The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygeine – and flossing is essential in the battle against bad breath. Brushing without flossing is comparable to cleaning only 65% of the body, leaving 35% untouched and prime for bacterial growth, which causes bad breath.”

How often do you floss? Tell us in the Comments box below.