Most patients, including myself, would love a free pass when it comes to flossing. Let’s be honest, flossing is one more thing to do during our day and requires time and effort. Over the last few months, we have had a few patients ask us about the validity of flossing. You may have seen news coverage questioning the importance of using floss. We would like to share our perspective on why cleaning between your teeth is important.
Media Buzz About Flossing
All of these questions are represented in an article that was released by the Associated Press on August 2, 2016. In particular, the article questioned the effectiveness of flossing. The information shared in these news releases was primarily connected to the reality that no long-term study of flossing exists. Conducting a scientific study of the effects of flossing is difficult because a) patients are not always truthful with how often they floss daily, b) proper flossing technique is not always used, and c) too many other variables like diet, overall health, and genetics cannot be adequately accounted for or controlled.
Expert Perspectives on Flossing
Unfortunately, this media buzz created doubt about the efficacy of flossing. Expert Evangelos Papathanasiou, an assistant professor of periodontology at Tufts School of Dental Medicine attempted to clarify why studies about floss are difficult to perform. He stated, “Many of the studies that sought to evaluate flossing were poorly designed—small sample sizes, brief duration, poor controls, inadequate assessments, to name a few issues—leading to the lackluster or questionable results.” Additionally, assistant professor of comprehensive care, Alan Epstein, reports “They’re not saying flossing is not good. No study has been done that says it’s not the right thing to do.”
Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) continue to urge patients to clean between their teeth daily using either dental floss or other appropriate interdental cleaners. Hogan Family Dental is in complete agreement with the recommendations of the ADA and AAP. We will continue to make regular recommendations to have patients clean between their teeth.
Three simple truths exist. 1) Every person has bacteria living in their mouth. 2) Gum disease is caused by bacterial toxins. 3) Cavities are caused from the acid being secreted by these bacteria. If bacteria are not removed from the mouth daily, a person has a high risk for both cavities and gum disease especially in the space between teeth where toothbrushes cannot reach. Therefore, cleaning between teeth daily, along with twice daily brushing is the best way to prevent both cavities and gum disease.
Evidence in Observations
Dentists and dental hygienists across the globe can quickly identify patients who floss or do not floss. The color, shape, texture, and response to probing of a patient’s gums give dental hygienists or dentists very good information regarding the overall health of a patients gums.
Flossing is the best method to clean between the teeth when the proper technique is used. Patients are encouraged to avoid using a horizontal or “see-saw” motion when flossing. Instead, patients are recommended to floss in a vertical motion (up and down) to clean the entire side of the tooth.
Options Other Than Floss
Is flossing challenging for you? Hogan Family Dental urges you to find an alternative to floss for interdental cleaning. Our favorite alternatives to flossing include the Waterpik, flossettes (floss with a handle), interproximal brushes (Piksters), and Showerfloss.
How To Be Successful
Each patient has a unique set of conditions and variables to consider for maintaining optimum oral health. Hogan Family Dental encourages you to talk with your dentist and dental hygienist about what type of interdental cleaner is best for you. Your dental team will help determine a customized oral hygiene program for you. The keys to success are use: the correct tool for the appropriate space, know how to use your interdental cleaner of choice properly, and be consistent.
Call or email Hogan Family Dental today! We are here to help.