What Are Flossing Cavities?

Dear Dr. Shunnarah,

My friend just told me that she went to the dentist last week and that she has “flossing cavities.” What does that mean?

Great question! Many people tend to think of their teeth as just the white parts that they can see. However, each tooth has 6 sides: the root (below the gum line), the top surface (for chewing and biting), and the 4 perimeter sides that go all the way around each tooth. Other than the very back molars where three sides are exposed, most of the teeth only have two sides that you can actually see and touch. The sides where the teeth meet are where flossing cavities occur.

The teeth are meant to be fitted tightly within the mouth to give them support and to support the jawbone. Because of how tightly the teeth are fitted together, a toothbrush is not an adequate tool for cleaning between the teeth. Dental floss is the only tool designed to clean between the teeth, removing any trapped particles and scraping away dental plaque that accumulates there each day. If you are not flossing daily, the areas between your teeth are building up with bacteria-laden plaque that will damage your teeth.

Flossing cavities are created just like any other cavity on the surface of a tooth. When there is a breakdown of the outer, calcified enamel of the tooth by bacteria, a cavity will occur. A cavity is a small hole in the tooth enamel where bacteria have attacked an area of a tooth and bacteria have eaten away at the enamel. The only way to avoid flossing cavities, or any type of dental health issue, is through proper oral care. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, and you should floss every single day. While both of these are necessary for a healthy smile, flossing is the most important thing you can do to promote oral health. Saliva, chewing gum, mouthwash, and drinking plenty of water will all help to limit the amount of damaging bacteria on the outer surfaces of the teeth, but only through flossing will you be able to clean the tight spots between your teeth.

Contact Montevallo Family Dentistry to learn more.

Posted on Behalf of Montevallo Family Dentistry