Today is National Flossing Day! It’s time to get out your floss and celebrate! This day was most definitely deemed as such due to following Thanksgiving. After devouring a big hearty meal accompanied by sweet desserts, alcohol and coffee, flossing is absolutely necessary!

Similarly to when you leave food out, when food particles are left behind in the mouth, it will begin to rot. When food rots in the mouth, it causes bacteria and infection to the teeth. Rotting food can cause your teeth to rot as well. Holes, or cavities, begin to form as a result of poor dental hygiene. Eventually, tooth loss can occur. Flossing is a major key to removing food and debris preventing tooth decay or loss.

Think of all the foods typically consumed on Thanksgiving. There’s the stringy turkey likely to leave behind some samples. Sweet sides like cranberry, honey glazed carrots, yams with brown sugar and marshmallow can leave sticky sugar on your teeth building up plaque. Then there are all of the desserts! Pumpkin pie, maybe some ice cream, cookies and cakes similarly will eat away at the tooth’s enamel. Add alcohol like sweet wines or sodas mixed with spirits to that, and the bacterias and acids floating around on your teeth are sure to cause tooth decay. Be sure to check out our previous blog post about how alcohol consumption affects your teeth as well.

Plaque forms on your teeth from eating too many sugars and starches and not following up with proper teeth cleaning. When sugars and starches aren’t properly cleaned off your teeth, bacteria quickly begin feeding on them forming plaque: a clear sticky film that coats your teeth. When certain bacteria produce acid, it eats away at and underneath the tooth’s enamel. It dissolves the protective layer beneath plaque. This acid removes minerals from the enamel, which if left untreated, can cause cavities.

With everything Americans typically ingest over Thanksgiving, it’s no wonder that the day after is National Flossing Day. Flossing is an extremely important part of the mouth care routine. It removes food particles stuck between the teeth that regular brushing can’t always achieve.

Flossing should be done daily. The American Dental Association recommends flossing a minimum of once per day. It would make the most sense for it to be done at the end of the day after you’ve brushed your teeth. This gives you an opportunity to thoroughly clean out your teeth and any possible food left in your mouth after all your meals have been ingested for the day. Not flossing before you go to bed at night gives the food in your mouth time to breed bacteria and form plaque while you are sleeping.

While the recommendation is to floss once a day, you are not limited to that one time. Flossing after all meals is a great way to prevent plaque buildup and tooth decay. Keeping floss in your purse, car or at work makes flossing a readily available activity on the go. It’s especially helpful to have handy if you can feel there is food in your teeth.