We’ve all been there: You’re sitting in the dentist’s chair and they ask, “Have you been flossing?”
Even though the importance of proper brushing, rinsing, and flossing is ingrained in most of us at an early age, this simple act often gets ignored. According to one study, only four out of 10 Americans floss at least once a day, and 20 percent ignore the routine altogether.
It didn’t help that in 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) delivered their annual report with the recommendation of flossing purposely removed. The HHS stated that there was no hard evidence to prove that flossing accomplishes anything.
But everyone in the dental industry begs to differ.
The missing recommendation was not a license to avoid flossing altogether; it was, rather, a response to requiring more scientific evidence to keep the recommendation in the official guidelines. The word among dental professionals is still unanimous: Flossing is beneficial to your overall oral health.
Evidence Supporting Flossing Your Teeth
Wayne Aldredge, DMD – a former president of the American Academy of Periodontology – has stated that while few studies have been conducted, there is enough evidence to indicate that flossing helps break down plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that coats teeth. Dental professionals remain convinced that when you don’t floss, you’re at risk for gingivitis and cavities between the teeth.
A toothbrush and toothpaste adequately clean the front and back of tooth surfaces, but the food left lodged between teeth can lead to gum inflammation and tooth decay. One study found that those who floss are 80 percent less likely to develop gum disease or experience tooth decay than those who don’t.
Oral Health Affects Overall Health
In recent years, there has been a widespread focus on the correlation between oral health and overall health. Half of all Americans suffer from gum disease – a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when plaque forms below the gum line. Swelling, red, and irritated gums are common symptoms.
The disturbing part of this is that mouth health reflects overall wellness, and gum disease’s detriments aren’t confined to the mouth. Those with gum disease are at risk for a host of health issues, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and premature birth.
Flossing Tools and Tips
Flossing takes practice, requiring dexterity and patience. Ask your dentist advice on flossing “best practices,” and they’ll show you that it’s a good idea to use a “C-shape” motion that hugs the corners of the teeth, rather than straight up and down, without getting the edges.
For the flossing-averse, there are also many tools on the market – such as Waterpik water flosser or interdental brushes – that take the guesswork out of flossing and make it a little less cumbersome.
Family and Cosmetic Dentist in St. Paul
Flossing only takes a minute or two out of your day, so it’s certainly beneficial to you to continue this healthful habit. Highly reputable sources including The U.S. Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Dental Association all continue to advise the use of dental floss as a part of every patient’s daily routine.
One way to learn more about flossing tips and how it can help you is by attending regular dental cleanings and checkups. Dr. Steven R. Hagerman, DDS, and his staff at Hagerman Dental Care offer solutions to all your general, cosmetic, and restorative dental needs.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us at (651) 646-2392 or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you achieve and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.