(856) 983-9620

Don't Toss Your Floss  
(by Richard J. Weber, DMD)

Every once in a while see a healthcare headline that raises a few eyebrows. It might suggest that we should drink wine missing_toothevery day, or that mammograms are being given too early and often, that getting more tattoos could improve your health, or some other counter-intuitive idea.

The latest example came in an Associated Press article suggesting that flossing may be a waste of time. The story even hinted at a conspiracy among pro-flossing organizations like the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology. The AP drew these conclusions after analyzing several previously published studies on the benefits of flossing.  While it’s true many of those studies are inconclusive, all of us at Monokian Dentistry strongly recommend that you do floss daily. Here’s why:

7 Common Sense Reasons to Floss

  1. It’s what the pros use.  At Monokian Family and Cosmetic Dentistry we pride ourselves on providing the absolute best in quality care for our dental patients. Our hygiene team uses all of the modern advances in dentistry to make your teeth shine. This means using an Ultra Sonic device, hand instruments and a power polishing cup for nearly all of our cleanings. But what do they pick up as they near the end of the appointment?? That’s right! An 18 inch piece of good old fashion floss!  This is because despite the advances, properly used floss will still remove plaque from the sides of teeth in ways that other devices simply cannot.
  2. Brushing misses parts of the teeth.  When we brush, the toothbrush simply cannot reach between the teeth. If you only had one tooth left in your mouth, you don’t need to floss.  Simply brush all around it. Then again, if you have only one tooth left, you probably weren’t flossing in the first place!
  3. Flossing cleans below the gums.  Ever wonder where the floss disappears to as it gets to the gums and then goes below?? Between the tooth and the gums is a little space called a pocket.  This is normal and in a healthy person, you can floss and brush below the gums without getting any bleeding.  If you do not floss, there is a good chance that your pockets have gotten deeper (and not in the good way $$$). Deeper pockets indicate the start of gum disease which makes proper oral hygiene even more important!
  4. Floss “brushes” the sides of your teeth. Its not just about whether you floss.  HOW you floss is even more important.  When we take the piece of floss between our teeth, make sure you are applying pressure to the side of the tooth you are cleaning.  Once you have gone up and down to scrub the side of the tooth, go between the same set of teeth and apply pressure to the adjacent tooth.  Now you got it!!
  5. Simply put, Flossing feels GREAT! Here is the REAL reason we floss (wink, wink)  Once you dedicate yourself to getting into a habit of flossing, you will see the light and come to this realization:  With proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques, you can get nearly the SAME feeling you get after you see one of our hygienists EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.  My dr_richpromise is: you will get hooked!
  6. Flossing absolutely does help clean your teeth. While there is some debate about how much flossing may or may not reduce your incidence of cavities, there’s no question that flossing does leave your teeth cleaner. The benefits – which go well beyond cavity prevention - include fresher breath and removal of annoying food particles.
  7. Flossing requires minimal cost and effort... just a few dollars a year and few seconds each day. So whether you believe the benefits of flossing are many or few, it’s absolutely worthwhile.

Please don’t let a little questionable research about flossing keep you from taking good care of your teeth. If you are unable to perform proper flossing, there are other excellent techniques to clean between your teeth, such as interproximal brushes, dental picks, water flossers and floss holders to name a few.  But before you hurry to more expensive methods, give your old fashion, cost effective, tried and true floss a fair shake.

This post was submitted by Dr. Richard Weber, who practices at Monokian Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Marlton, NJ.