Few parts of a regular dental visit are as uncomfortable as the scraping the dentist or hygienist must do to remove tartar. Tartar is a hard buildup of plaque that forms around the gum line. Once it's there, it can't be removed without professional help. But thanks to floss, health-conscious individuals have a powerful tool to fight this stubborn problem.
Flossing allows you to remove the plaque that causes tartar while it's in its early form: sticky, but soft and pliable. Since plaque doesn't harden into tartar until it's been undisturbed for a period of time, regular flossing can keep buildup from happening.
A key to successfully fighting tartar is to combine flossing with brushing and possibly an ADA-approved mouthwash. Floss can remove the tartar from around the gums, but it's not able to strengthen tooth enamel like fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash can. Studies suggest that combining these tools delivers a one-two punch of physical plaque removal (flossing and brushing) and chemical cleaning (toothpaste and mouthwash).
- American Dental Association. "Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums." 2011. (Aug. 24, 2011) http://www.ada.org/2624.aspx
- American Dental Association. "Floss and Other Interdental Cleaners." 2011. (Aug. 24, 2011) http://www.ada.org/1318.aspx
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Oral Health. "Conference: Public Health Implications of Chronic Periodontal Infections in Adults." June 23, 2009. (Aug. 23, 2011) http://www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/publications/resources/conferences/periodontal_infections01.htm
- American Academy of Periodontology. "Types of Gum Disease." April 1, 2011. (Aug. 23, 2011) http://www.perio.org/consumer/2a.html
- Sinclair, Shelly-Ann, MPH, Edelstein, Burton, DDS, MPH. "Cost Effectiveness of Preventive Dental Services." Children's Dental Health Project Policy Brief. Feb. 23, 2005
- American Dental Association. "Sensitive Teeth." 2011. (Sept. 3, 2011) http://www.ada.org/3058.aspx
- Green Eco Services. "Green and Healthy Mouths -- Dental Floss." Oct. 29, 2008. (Sept 5, 2011) http://www.greenecoservices.com/green-and-healthy-mouths-dental-floss/
- California Dental Association. "Oral Health and Systemic Disease." (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.cda.org/popup/oral_health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "February is American Heart Month." Jan. 31, 2011 (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/
- American Diabetes Association. "Diabetes Statistics." Jan. 26, 2011 (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/
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