Everything to Know About Flossing
A recent study found that nearly half of Americans report that they do not floss regularly, ten percent have never flossed, and less than thirty percent know how to floss properly. Do you need to floss? If so, do you need to have perfect technique? Why do people not floss? What happens if you do not floss? These are some commonly asked questions that we feel the need to answer.
Why do People Not Floss?
There are several main reasons that people report to avoid using dental floss. One common misconception about floss is that some believe it is only to remove food trapped between the teeth.This is the reason we use toothpicks but floss has more of a job to do. Flossing not only cleans out food between teeth but also cleans plaque buildup. Plaque is the main contributor to tooth decay.
Second, some people do not floss because they have never been properly trained how. This is a simple fix. Here is a great clip, diagrams, and directions from the American Dental Association. You may be surprised what you will learn in a few minutes!
A third reason people do not floss is that they do not have the physical ability. People who have had strokes, children, Parkinson’s patients, and those who have lost the manual proficiency with age can all have trouble manipulating floss properly. There are products that are sold at the local drug store that can remedy this. Floss holders can be very helpful. One simple design is pictured below;
One other reason people do not floss is that flossing can cause pain. If this is the case, you may have gum disease. Gum disease creates inflammation. The answer to gum disease does not lie in the avoidance of oral hygiene practices. A dental visit can diagnose gum disease and a treatment plan can be created from there.
Flossing is a recommended adjunct to other oral healthcare procedures. Floss can reach areas that the brush cannot. A very common location of tooth decay is between the teeth just under where they touch the adjacent tooth. This area is often missed by the brush. When floss is pushed between the teeth, it can clean plaque buildup that could otherwise cause tooth destruction.
In addition, floss can clean below the gum line better than a toothbrush. Floss has been found to have the ability to reach on average three millimeters below the gums. A toothbrush can only reach one and a half millimeters.
What Does the Research Say?
Some large research endeavors have found that there is not a difference of significance between people that floss and those that don’t in terms of plaque levels and gum disease. These studies did have some drawbacks. It is important to note that none of the people studied had been given proper instruction on the exact flossing procedures. There is little research that has been done with large sample sizes that have been given adequate training.
Graves and company in 1989 found that reductions in bleeding were nearly double in patients that flossed vs non-flossers. Lang Dental found that patients who flossed at least 4 times per week found reductions in plaque, calculus, and gingivitis.
Some Other Facts about Floss
The American Dental Association agrees with recent studies regarding the choice of dental floss types. There are so many different types of floss available so which one should you choose? The findings are that it nearly does not matter. The efficacy of floss depends on how and when you use it and the type of floss is of little significance. It would be smart to find a floss that has the ADA seal so you can be sure that there has been testing done to support it’s construction.
The ADA recommends flossing once per day. They do not specify when to floss. Many people prefer to sleep with a clean mouth so before bedtime is a great time to floss.
At Matthew Nawrocki DMD, MS we are not only committed to providing excellent dental care but we also strive to educate everyone we can about oral health issues. We welcome comments, questions, and new patients. For more informative posts, visit our past blog topics. Feel free to call us at (904)602-8396 or click contact us!