It’s common knowledge that we should be flossing on a daily basis. But how many of us actually do? There’s more incentive to floss than just a healthy smile and fresh breath. New research has found an association between the bacteria that causes gum disease and swelling of the arteries resulting in cardiovascular disease. The research is based on the fact that bacteria found in the mouth, such as Porphryomonas gingivivalis, are also found in fatty deposits identified in coronary arteries. While brushing is effective in removing plaque from the tooth surfaces it is not sufficient to access the areas in the spaces between the teeth. It is necessary to brush and floss to reduce the bacteria in your mouth. If the bacteria are not removed, they survive on food particles and produce acids. These acids create breaches in the teeth, known as cavities and produce an unpleasant smell. Additionally, if the plaque is not removed, it eventually hardens into tartar. It is necessary that a dentist or hygienist remove tartar as brushing or flossing will not remove tartar after it has progressed from plague. If tartar is not removed, bacteria accumulate within the tartar and produce toxins that cause inflammation. This is the beginning of gum disease leading to a weakening in the support of the teeth. Interestingly, other conditions that are associated with gum disease are a greater risk of delivering pre-term, low birth weight babies, diminishing the response to vaccines against hepatitis B and influenza, weakened immune system and slow healing wounds. Brushing and flossing improves or maintains your oral health but it can be helpful in maintaining your overall good health. While you may brush regularly, if you are not flossing regularly you’re only completing about two thirds of the job!