Our Portland cosmetic dentists at Burlingame Dental Arts get a lot of questions from patients regarding the best practices for maintaining and improving their oral health. A common question many patients ask: Why is flossing so important to my oral health?
The idea that flossing is a vital part of an individual’s oral care has come under even more scrutiny recently as a number of news outlets picked up on a story published in the Daily Mail that called flossing a waste of time. The claims made by the article were even picked up by Fox News, leading one analysis to claim that any dentist who recommended flossing to patients did so because he or she had a stake in the “flossing business.”
This just goes to show the kind of damage erroneous stories based on faulty reporting can have on public perception. Unfortunately, an examination of the basis for the article shows some serious flaws.
The Daily Mail article claimed to have based its conclusions on a review published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology that found no evidence to support claims that flossing helps to lower an individual’s risk of gum disease. However, upon looking closer, the claims made by researchers shows the review actually concluded that flossing “seems to support the management of gingivitis.” So even if no direct cause and effect relationship was found that proves without a doubt that flossing lowers an individual’s risk of gum disease, enough evidence does exist that suggests flossing at least helps to manage gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. This alone would make flossing worthwhile, even if the jury remains out on whether flossing provides even greater benefits.
Why You Should Floss
Our mouths contain hundreds of millions of individual bacterial strands. While most of this bacteria serves a beneficial role in protecting our health, some play a very different kind of role. Plaque – a sticky biofilm comprised of bacteria and food particles – grows on the surface of our teeth where it uses the sugars we consume to produce an acid-like substance that damages tooth enamel. When given enough time and allowed to build up in the mouth, plaque can cause serious damage to our teeth by increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
While your toothbrush does an adequate job of removing plaque from the surface of your teeth, there are some areas of your mouth a toothbrush just cannot reach, such as between teeth and below the gum line. Floss on the other hand is designed to clean these areas of the mouth, and helps to remove plaque and food particles that brushing cannot.
If you don’t think that flossing can make a difference in lowering your risk of cavities consider this: the most common place for cavities to develop in the mouth is actually between your teeth!
Best Oral Health Practices
To enjoy the best oral health possible now and in the future, all you need to do is follow three simple steps:
- Brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Schedule regular checkups and cleanings with our Portland cosmetic dentists at Burlingame Dental Arts.
That’s it! Follow these steps and you’ll both lower your risk of gum disease and tooth decay while also enjoy a great looking smile.