Flossing helps reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth and helps keep gums healthy.
Flossing has NOT been proven to reduce the number of cavities (incidences of caries (decay)). However, flossing does help reduce the bacteria load in the mouth by physically cleaning between teeth. This likely helps fight decay and gum disease by removing bacteria. It is possible gums will bleed with a good flossing technique. This is usually because the gums are unhealthy. Gums do not need to bleed or hurt to be unhealthy. In fact, unhealthy gums often do not hurt. Do not stop flossing if there is blood. On the contrary, continue flossing and brushing with good technique, to try and reduce or eliminate gum bleeding (which is usually a sign of improved health).
See your dentist and know your gum health/condition by having your gums measured. Gums should be measured at least once per year. The sides of each tooth should have a score (depth) and the amount of recession recorded in your dental record. Have a goal of flossing once per day, but at least 2-3 times per week. Smell your floss after you floss. If it smells bad, your breath probably does too. The bad smell is bacteria that is in your mouth. Cleaner mouths with less bacteria generally have less scent. As people live longer, gum health often becomes more of a dental concern than decay (cavities). The best way to slow down gum recession and/or gum disease is to be on top of it from an early age. As people age, it is not a bad idea to visit a periodontist – someone who specialized in gum health. It is also wise to start increasing the frequency of professional dental cleanings, often to every 3-4 months, especially if there are multiple restorations present.