From Gingivitis To Periodontitis: How Flossing Can Make A Difference

June 01, 2024

From Gingivitis To Periodontitis: How Flossing Can Make A Difference
Beautiful woman flossing her healthy white teeth

Have you ever brushed your teeth and noticed a tinge of blood? Maybe your bleeding gums feel a little sore too. It's not exactly a pleasant surprise. This could be a sign of gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Don't panic though! Gingivitis is reversible with good oral hygiene. But if left untreated, it can morph into something more serious: periodontitis.  

This is where things get scary as you could end up having loose teeth and even tooth loss. But here's the good news: flossing can be your weapon in the fight against both gingivitis and periodontitis. Keep reading and learn how this simple act of flossing can make a world of difference for your smile.

Understanding Gingivitis

Gingivitis is essentially gum inflammation caused by a buildup of plaque, a sticky film teeming with bacteria. These bacteria love feasting on leftover food particles in your mouth. As they multiply, they irritate your gums, making them red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. You might not even notice it at first, but if you experience having red gums, swollen gums, purple gums, or any of these symptoms, don't ignore them.

How Flossing Can Stop Gingivitis in Its Tracks

Here's where flossing steps in as your shield. You see, brushing alone can't reach all the nooks and crannies between your teeth, especially where they meet your gums. That's prime real estate for plaque to build up. Flossing acts like a tiny shield, physically removing plaque and food debris before they can wreak havoc on your gums. Think of it as giving those pesky bacteria the boot before they cause a party in your mouth. As my general dentist in Victoria always reminds me, "Floss the teeth you want to keep!"

How Gingivitis Can Lead to Periodontitis

If you leave an untreated gingivitis long enough, it can progress to periodontitis. This is where things get serious. In periodontitis, the inflammation spreads deeper, affecting the bones that support your teeth. These bones start to deteriorate, creating pockets around the teeth that get filled with even more bacteria. This vicious cycle can lead to loose teeth, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.

While flossing can't reverse the damage caused by this advanced periodontal disease, it can still play a crucial role in preventing it from getting worse. By continuing to remove plaque and bacteria at the gum line, you can help slow down the progression of this severe gum disease and maintain a healthy environment for your teeth and gum health.

Proper Flossing Techniques to Keep in Mind

Flossing might seem simple, but there's a right and wrong way to do it. Here's how to floss effectively:

Grab about 18 inches of floss. Wrap some of it onto your middle fingers and leave a small section between your thumb and index finger of each hand.

Gently guide the floss between two teeth. Use a sawing motion to hug the sides of each tooth and reach below the gum line. Don't force it though. If it feels like it's snagging, try a different technique.
Repeat for all your teeth using a clean section of floss for each one.
Proper technique is key to ensuring you're not only removing plaque and debris but also avoiding damaging your gums. If you're unsure about your technique or experiencing discomfort while flossing, don't hesitate to ask your dentist or dental hygienist for guidance. They'll be more than happy to demonstrate the right way to floss and offer personalized tips to make it a comfortable and effective part of your oral hygiene routine.

Don't Forget the Power of Brushing

Remember, flossing is your partner in crime, not a replacement for brushing. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is essential for removing plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. Essentially, flossing and brushing should work hand-in-hand to keep your mouth in tip-top shape. 
While flossing targets those hard-to-reach areas between your teeth, brushing is your first line of defense against plaque buildup. Think of it as a one-two punch: you brush to remove the bulk of the plaque, and then you floss to get the leftovers. Neglecting either step leaves openings for bacteria to thrive and cause problems down the line.

Thus, make sure you're spending at least two minutes brushing, targeting all surfaces of your teeth. And don't forget to show some love to your tongue, too! A quick brush or scrape can help banish any lingering bacteria that might be causing persistent bad breath and dry mouth.

Attend To Regular Dental Checkups

Even the most diligent flossers can miss some spots. That's why regular dental checkups and routine dental cleaning are vital. Your dentist can detect gingivitis in its early stages and offer routine dental cleaning to remove stubborn plaque and tartar buildup. If you're already suffering from advanced periodontitis, your dentist can recommend you the right gum disease treatment, like a gum surgery or the proper antibiotics.


Taking a few minutes each day to floss might seem like a chore, but the benefits for your oral health are undeniable. This oral care habit can help prevent gingivitis, keep periodontitis at bay, and ultimately, save your smile. So, grab that floss and make it a daily habit. 


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