Oral hygiene is one of the most important parts of your health. Your mouth is one of the main ways that bacteria and other unwelcome guests make their home in your body, so keeping your mouth clean is one way to minimize your risk of health problems and infections.
But what if the steps you take to keep your mouth clean actually put you at greater risk for infection? That is what happened to one woman whose sudden change in oral hygiene habits let her to get a severe infection in her knee joint replacement.
How Flossing Poses a Risk to Your Health
In general, it is important to note that flossing is a safe and necessary part of your dental care routine. Flossing gets out food particles and built up plaque that brushing does not reach.
However, you need to floss safely and carefully, particularly if you haven’t flossed in years. Your gums are extremely sensitive, and a little bit too much pressure can cause them to bleed. This is considered a wound, and it gives infections a way to get established right in your bloodstream.
The Shocking Story of Flossing That Led to a Knee Infection
This whole story unfolded in an emergency room. An older woman showed up at the emergency room, claiming that her knee replacement was causing pain and swelling around the knee area. Doctors were confused, since the replacement had been completely fine for five years.
However, as they ran tests, they found that flossing was likely the problem. The bacteria causing the infection in her knee was a type of bacteria that was found in the mouth. How could it travel that far and cause an infection in her knee?
It was all because of flossing. After not flossing for years, the woman had started an intense and vigorous flossing routine that caused her gums to bleed excessively. The bacteria made its way in through one of these wounds and settled on her artificial joint.
This story has a happy ending. With aggressive antibiotic treatment and surgery, the woman was able to keep her knee replacement. However, it’s easy to see that an infection left untreated can lead to serious side effects like sepsis, loss of a joint, or even death.
Safe Oral Health
Don’t go and throw your dental floss away just yet. Flossing is still an incredibly important part of your dental health routine, but it is important to go about it the right way. If you haven’t lost a long time, start doing so gently and only for a few seconds at a time. This prevents your gums from getting aggravated and bleeding.
As your mouth gets used to flossing, you can be a bit more thorough in your efforts. However, you should still never floss hard enough to cause bleeding in your gums. If your gums bleed easily, consider seeking help from a dentist.
You may also want to add oil pulling to your oral health routine. This practice pulls bacteria from the mouth and amplifies the work that you do when you brush and floss your teeth.