Well there you have it folks! If you get all of your medical/dental advice from the lame stream media, then good on you! I’ll see you at your 6 month check ups and we’ll just keep on keeping on.
But for the rest of you who believe in actually getting sound medical and dental advice from professionals who are actually super educated in the field, maybe don’t believe everything you read?
The headlines sure are catchy though and really make you jump into the details. Wait what exactly are the details? The New York Post says in it’s article “The federal government has recommended flossing since 1979, first in a surgeon general’s report and later in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued every five years. The guidelines must be based on scientific evidence, under the law.”
Basically the AP is stating that after their (non dental) research of recent limited (dental) research studies provided, doesn’t show concrete evidence that flossing is effective at removing plaque and preventing tooth decay. So many variables here.
Flossing has been widely accepted as a way to remove plaque and prevent cavities since 1908. A tooth brush removes plaque on surfaces of your teeth that it can reach, but there are some surfaces of your teeth that a tooth brush alone can not reach. Every dentist and hygienist can tell you whether or not a patient bushes and flosses well. How do we know this? Because from a hygiene perspective the gums are healthy with minimal plaque and no presence of gum disease, and from the dental perspective, no presence of cavities between your teeth. And that’s not even discussing systemic effects like reducing possible sources of bacterial inflammation that could be contributing to arterial health throughout your body.
So what exactly were these studies showing then if they don’t show what we as dental professionals have been preaching for over a century? That is a really good question. The research scope (what information are we looking for out of the research) and sample size (how many hundreds or thousands of patients are we looking at) may not be adequate.
They also may not be researching things the right way. Honestly most people don’t even know how to floss the right way until someone shows them. Most people take floss in a sawing motion between their teeth, which won’t be effective at anything other than causing your gums to bleed and become irritated. Do these studies train people how to floss properly first? Cavities and gum disease in most cases don’t just pop up in a few months, are these studies tracking patients and patients hygiene habits for long enough and are the patients compliant for the whole time? Kind of a lot of questions to be asked, and kind of a difficult thing to study adequately.
Bottom line is if you are getting all of your information from the government (insert sarcasm here– because they’re really looking out for your best interest) and the news outlets then go ahead and retire your floss or find better uses for it. I’ll happily see you and your families at your check ups and then some to deal with your gum disease and cavities. Or you can take the advice of I’m sure almost all of the 190,000 or so practicing dentists in the U.S. and more than 1.8million worldwide who can tell you the benefits of flossing
far outweigh the consequences of not.
Floss, floss picks, floss threaders, waterpik’s, air flossers, all have been shown to be more effective at plaque removal when combined with brushing than brushing alone. A few extra minutes or so with any of these and most of us would promise it will help you see us the minimal times per year.
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