Recently, newspapers around the globe shouted to the world that “flossing was scientifically proven ineffective.” This hubbub occurred because the revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans did not recommend flossing. Somehow, in the minds of the press, this guideline about how to eat healthily turned into the definitive guide for how to care for one’s teeth. So, with so much hubbub occurring on the subject, the question of whether or not one should floss to keep his or her teeth healthy is entirely valid. Here at Gladstone Family Dentistry, we have drilled down to the truth.
Do I need to floss?
The problem with relying on general news outlets to answer questions about health concerns is they rarely provide all of the facts. In the case of flossing, we suspect that many people writing news articles feel vindicated about not incorporating flossing into their daily routine. In fact, one article was titled: “Flossing is Nonsense – And My Laziness is Vindicated.” And, funnily enough, the writer of this article tells the world that he had major dental issues recently for which he had to schedule many, many visits to the dentist.
We all know that flossing is a pain, sometimes literally. However, if you review the actual scientific studies on the subject, you will find that more studies find flossing and brushing your teeth is beneficial than those who found it uncertain as to whether or not flossing is an important part of your dental hygiene routine.
Finally, there are a few issues encountered by scientists working to study the benefits of flossing. These are:
a) Confirmation bias. If the scientists doing the study believe flossing is important, or they hate flossing, their personal opinions may skew how they interpret the raw data they receive.
b) Studying long-term effects is hard. Long-term studies are expensive and have rarely been done in the case of flossing. Even though floss has been around for over 100 years, the oldest study many scientists refer to about the subject is from the 1970’s.
c) Not everyone flosses properly. Many people only put floss between their teeth to loosen food, and that’s about it. This isn’t wrong – it’s a great way to get at food stuck between your teeth. However, it’s not the way to floss if you are hoping to prevent gingivitis.
What’s the right way to floss?
Dental hygienists know the right way to floss your teeth. That’s one of the reasons your mouth feels so fresh and clean after your biannual checkup. Here’s a quick key for how you can get that fresh feeling every day:
- Choose floss that gets between your teeth easily.
- Floss before you brush.
- Wrap an 18-24 inch section of floss around your middle fingers.
- Hold the floss using your thumbs and index fingers.
- Ease the floss gently between your teeth – don’t snap it down into your gums.
- Position your floss in a “C” shape and then gently move it up and down, reaching the gums and the top of your teeth.
- Repeat until you have flossed all of your teeth!
If you are unsure about the right way to floss your teeth, or it’s about time for a checkup, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with Gladstone Family Dentistry today!