According to the recent Associated Press report, we should no longer floss because it has yet to be proven effective. But lack of high-quality evidence is not proof of ineffectiveness! Did you know that there are more than 500 different types of bacteria that can be found in dental plaque? Brushing your teeth will remove that bacteria from your tooth surfaces but how will you get rid of the bacteria that collects between your teeth and just below the gum line? We encourage our patients to think of dental floss like a long toothbrush bristle going between your teeth to remove the plaque your surface brush cannot.
Prolonged exposure to plaque buildup can create an inflammatory response in your gums, which often leads to periodontal disease. As it advances, periodontal disease can erode bone and gum tissue supporting teeth, leading to tooth loss. A large body of research links periodontal disease to systemic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. So by removing the bacteria in hard to reach places you are not only protecting your oral health but your overall health.
One thing the Associated Press failed to mention was that flossing isn’t the only way to clean between teeth and below the gums. While flossing with dental floss is one way, there are other options available such as interproximal brushes, water flossers and even a toothpick (we recommend Stim-U-dent).
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every two American adults over the age of 30 has some form of periodontal disease. There are many factors that contribute to this statistic: including age, smoking, the presence of other systemic conditions and family history. However, by continuing to floss as a low-cost and low-risk part of a regular oral hygiene routine (which should also include brushing twice daily and receiving a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year) you are doing your part to contribute to a life of healthy gums.
An ideal investigation of flossing’s impact on gum health – research that has not yet been done, possibly due to the expense and length of research because periodontal disease progresses slowly. So until this research is conducted, The Francis A. Bertolini Dental Team and the American Academy of Periodontology encourage you to floss-on.
Peshoff, Carl M. “Flossing.” Received by Francis A. Bertolini, DDS, 31 August 2016.