Posts for category: Hygiene
To floss or not to floss – continued….
The Best comment I have regarding last week’s flossing news is from Emily Willingham of Forbes Magazine: “I would like to urge the people of Earth to please continue flossing their teeth or using something to clean between them, if possible… Unless you are Gollum, you probably get food bits stuck between your teeth that toothbrushes, no matter how good you are with them, aren’t gonna get out…The story questioning the benefits of flossing doesn’t actually say that flossing has no benefits.”
Flossing not beneficial? Balderdash!
It was hard not to miss this morning’s front page Mercury News treatment of the latest dental bombshell:
The federal government, after compiling studies on flossing, said there’s little or no evidence it benefits dental health and has stopped recommending its use.
The article goes on to say the Associated Press examined the research and failed to find convincing evidence that flossing is effective. The studies found were “weak, unreliable,” and of “very low” quality.
What do we, who spend our days in the dental trenches say in response?
First, after looking in mouths for 30+ years, we can unequivocally state that regular flossing greatly reduces plaque buildup, prevents cavities, and keeps gums healthier than they would ever be without said flossing.
Second, perhaps this Flossing Kerfuffle is a benefit in disguise since it will create new dialogue in what has been a tired old story since 1979 (the year the government began recommending that Americans floss every day). How many times a day do we hear, “I know I should floss, but I haven’t been doing it.” Now we can replace the guilt with an honest to goodness conversation about why we think floss is still one of the most important tools in the oral health toolbox. It will become not just a duty one has to endure, but a free will act of self- care that will help reduce bleeding, save jawbone and keep teeth comfortable and functional for life.
What’s not to like about that?
Thank you, U.S. government!
So yes, flossing reigns supreme as the best way to clean the spaces between teeth, but oral irrigators have their place.
First, there are the non-flossing people. At some point you have to concede that a patient does not, perhaps cannot, and/or will never EVER use floss. This is where the Waterpik comes in. Its’ ease of use is highlighted in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmFsdYCiYTc#t=38. We won’t argue the point that
“water flossing” is better than no flossing at all.
Second, there are special situations where a Waterpik can really help. Orthodontics, for one. How difficult it is to floss under wires and around brackets! A Waterpik can clean in nooks and crannies that would otherwise be filled with food and debris. When you invest the time and expense on braces, it’s worth it to spend a little more and buy an irrigator to protect that investment and keep the teeth clean and disease-free during ortho treatment.
You also might want to get an irrigator if you have implants, crowns, or bridgework in your mouth. Implants, especially, which can be difficult to floss around, will benefit from the cleansing that a Waterpik provides. Studies show that irrigation can disrupt bacteria down 6 mm into the pockets around implants and teeth, which can greatly reduce inflammation and keep things healthy.
And then there are those who have recession and many spaces between their teeth. A combined regimen of brushing, flossing, and irrigating can keep these teeth and root surfaces clean, free of the bacterial film that so easily reattaches itself to the rougher exposed roots that those “long in the tooth” have. The irrigator here is an adjunct – an additional step in the home care routine that can have dramatic beneficial effects. We are continually impressed with our patients that floss AND irrigate: they stay healthy long term.
Next time: Kiwi’s and Canker sores
What about Waterpiks?
Quite often we are asked what we think of Waterpiks. Is it a good tool to use? Does it really help keep your mouth cleaner?
A little clarification: the term “Waterpik” is to oral irrigators as “Kleenex” is to tissues.
It has become generic for all dental irrigation devices. Although there are other manufacturers of dental irrigators, Waterpik, Inc., has been around since 1962 and is the leading producer of this type of dental product.
Oral irrigation devices are a hot topic right now. Go to waterpik.com and check out all the varied models, tips, instructional videos, and research-supported claims of the good that can come from spending one minute a day irrigating your teeth and gums.
We especially like the animation showing how the jets blow away debris from the teeth, with the gums quivering as the bacteria is blown out of the pockets. Check it out at http://www.waterpik.com/oral-health/videos/mPNtiMcM4Zg/
Pretty impressive stuff. In fact, the company has gone so far as to name their oral irrigators “water flossers,” implying that their use gives equivalent benefit as traditional dental floss for between teeth cleaning.
Does it, though? Here it is: A Waterpik is a good way to clean between teeth, but flossing is the best way to clean between teeth. When done properly, the mechanical disruption of the film of plaque on the surfaces of the teeth by floss results in the greatest health of the tissues. Side by side, flossing wins.
Next week: When we recommend using a Waterpik.
In Our Own Words: Why do we recommend flossing every day?
Linda: Brushing will clean only 3 of the 5 sides of each tooth – only floss can remove plaque in between the teeth and under the gums, the areas where periodontal disease usually begins.
Dr. Tom: Flossing disrupts the sticky bacterial film that grows on the teeth every day.
Dr. JoAnne: Daily flossing reduces the bleeding between your teeth by 38%. Remember, bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease.
Tu-Anh: It keeps your gums happy and teeth free of decay. Brushing and not flossing is like taking a shower and not washing your hair!
Nicole: ‘Cause it’s not nice to ignore your gums - they like some loving too you know!
Jill: Floss every day and your mouth will feel better, your gums won’t bleed, and you will keep your teeth.
Lastly, take a good look at the pictures below.
Bet you noticed the food stuck in their teeth didn’t you? Look again…….