There has been a recent stirring in the media revolving around the practice of flossing. A news story released by the AP calls into question the effectiveness of flossing, even calling into question the ethical relationship that the ADA has with floss manufacturers. We wanted to clear the air for our patients, and provide a little insight into how this study affects our recommendations and ultimately, your oral health. Here are some answers to some of the questions you are probably asking:
Why should I floss?
Flossing removes bacterial plaque and debris from in between the teeth. Removing debris such as food helps prevent bad breath and gum infections. Removing the plaque helps keep harmful bacteria from making a home on your teeth and in your gums. These bacteria are what cause decay, so getting rid of them helps prevent decay.
I floss every day, and my spouse never flosses. I get cavities and they don’t! What’s up with that?
This is at the heart of the issue. There are many factors that come into play with decay and gum disease. The main factors include genetics, diet, body chemistry, and oral hygiene. There are some people who do not brush or floss daily, and they have no problems. These individuals are classified scientifically as “lucky”. The rest of us have to combat oral problems from all sides, figuring out what might be the trigger that causes us to have problems in our mouth. This is why having an open and honest discussion with your dentist is important. We can’t help you unless we know all the facts from you.
Are there really no studies that prove the benefit of flossing?
There are not many long term studies proving, or disproving the benefits of flossing. In my opinion, part of the reason is it is hard to find individuals to intentionally neglect their teeth long enough to measure the effects. It is also hard because of the above mentioned factors, every person is different and their bodies react uniquely.
Can I cause more harm than good if I floss?
In rare cases, a person with a severe gum infection who injures their gums can introduce the bacteria into the blood stream. This is called a bacteremia. However, that injury can be caused by floss, a popcorn kernel, potato chip, or anything else. The risk of this type of infection is extremely low in an otherwise healthy person. Proper flossing technique is essential to minimize any trauma to your gums. Your hygienist will be more than happy to review proper technique with you at your next appointment.
Do you make money off of telling me to floss?
No! In fact, we buy the floss that we give away to you! We include this in your home care kits because we believe strongly that flossing is an essential component to your oral health.
What do the doctors tell their families to do?
Our mission at Monon Family Dental is to treat our patients like they were a family member in the chair. We strongly believe that the benefits of flossing outweigh the risks. We will continue to floss and recommend the practice to our family members.
As always, we maintain an open door policy at our practice. If you have any further questions regarding flossing or any other aspect of your oral health we would be more than happy to take the time to talk with you one on one.