Really, I don’t have to floss my teeth any more?

If you were watching the news last week then that might be what you are thinking.  It appears that the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services felt that could not find any research supporting using floss as a tool to prevent disease, based on a Cochrane review that challenged the validity of flossing.  Once mainstream news found this story they went on the airwaves about it. 

I have been a practicing dentist for over 34 years and there is one thing I know.  Gum disease is the most common issue I see in my patients. Gum disease is a risk factor for other diseases like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s just to name a few. I also know that my patients who do excellent home care do not have bleeding gums.  When patients floss regularly (daily) they have less gum disease than the patients that don’t

Here is the issue.  The vast majority of patients don’t floss or floss properly.  Flossing properly is about control of the floss and manual dexterity.  I have no problem showing patients how to floss properly.  But it is hard to do and in my experience most people give up on it rather than focusing on getting it right.

I have to admit, I have stopped teaching patients how to floss their teeth.  For several years I have been aware that the research is very clear about interdental brushing or stimulation as being the most effective way to break up the biofilm  which is how the bacteria that cause gum disease lives in your mouth.

Enter Soft Picks, in my humble opinion, the most cost effective and easiest system on the market to accomplish interdental brushing.  In fact, during every new patient exam I use softpicks to see if the patient has gum disease, if the tissues bleed when I do it for them there is disease…..simple as that.  And my experience is that I can get my patients to use them, they are so much easier that floss.  And think about this.  Teeth have natural concavities on them near the roots on the surfaces between where teeth touch.  How can a straight piece of floss get into those areas…it can’t.  But the little soft extensions on the Soft Picks actually get into these concavities and can disrupt the bacteria in there are well.

So do you need to floss?  Absolutely not.  But do you need to have a system to get in between your teeth and clean and the answer is yes.  And there are mechanical devices that can help as well such as the Sonicare AirFloss or the Waterpik Water Flosser.  And you still need to have excellent tooth brushing skills to clean the biofilm around the necks of the teeth right at the gum line as well.

And if you have excellent flossing skills….Floss On.

PS.  If you have any questions about the health of your gums or teeth don’t hesitate to reach out to our office or set up an appointment at our office.

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