Flossing

cartoon-denturesIt is as if life needs to get any more complicated then it already is. Now we have to decide if we really want to floss those pearly whites in spite of the lack of evidence that flossing will make a difference in our health. Yes you heard me right. The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, which issues the latest dietary guidelines for Americans, has deleted flossing from their recommendations. It seems that there has never been any conclusive studies proving the effectiveness of flossing in reducing plaque accumulation.

The news media has taken this tidbit of information and has run with it. It seems that dental floss is the thing that ties us all together. Readers are told they no longer need to feel “guilty about not flossing” (NY Times) or they even have “no need to floss” (NY Daily News). The topic has set social media on fire. I find all this attention quite remarkable

As a dentist with over thirty years of experience, I find the debate over the effectiveness of flossing rather perplexing. My hygienist Isis and I have found that our patients who take better care of their teeth have fewer cavities and gum problems. Better care means removing dental plaque, which is a soft mixture of food, bacteria and salivary proteins, that forms on teeth. The way to remove this accumulation is by brushing and flossing. There are certain people who might just get away without removing dental plaque, but a majority of people can’t get away with leaving it on. I find my patients who floss develop fewer cavities and have healthier gum tissue and less inflammation, which means their gums don’t bleed.

To Floss or Not to Floss, That is the Question

My advice is if you currently floss you should keep doing it. If you don’t floss, then you should think about giving it a try. For a little motivation read my blog post on gum disease. Our patients who start flossing often report more comfortable cleaning appointments. The way I see it is that flossing can greatly benefit you while not hurting you.  As to which teeth you should floss, I tell my patients to floss only the teeth they want to keep.

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