Have you seen the article about flossing that’s gone viral on the internet over the past several weeks? This one is about the lack of clinical evidence that flossing prevents tooth decay. When my cousin sent me the article, I thought it was a hoax, but it appeared to be from NYTimes Magazine, no lightweight in the publishing world. As I read it, I grew alarmed, not by the content of the article but by the implications. By glancing at the headlines one could come away with the idea that flossing doesn’t work. What the article actually says is that there aren’t clinical trials to prove that it works.
Why is it that we, as humans, will skip over 54,000 information bytes that give one opinion, but will focus on the ONE byte that opines differently, especially if it concerns something we’re not crazy about doing anyway? It’s one of the endearing qualities that makes us special, I guess.
I would love to have a deep and intense discussion about clinical trials and ethics and research, but I realize that doesn’t appeal to everyone, so fear not. That’s not what this blog is about.
I was in the process of pestering Dr. G to write something in response to this article, but before he did, the ADA beat him to it. Yea! They are (usually) such a boss organization. I love what they’ve written here.
Now, if we were evil and wanted to take over the world we could say, “Don’t bother flossing,” thus ensuring gum disease for our patients and lots of periodontal visits over the course of our business life. But we’re not. And we wouldn’t.
Don’t forget…periodontal disease doesn’t stop at the mouth! Once those bacteria take hold (and they regenerate every 26 hours), they don’t stay in the mouth. They love to travel. Here are some of the effects they can have on the body: heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, stroke, erectile dysfunction (yes, I went there), not to mention halitosis. And if you become pregnant while you have gum disease you have an increased chance of delivering prematurely and/or delivering a baby with a low birth weight.
This is all SO preventable! Floss once every 24 hours or so. That’s it! Read my blog article “Confessions of a Floss Hater” for some tips on making flossing a habit for life. I’ll leave you with the words of wisdom I gave my daughter just last week, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.”
[Pssst…if this hasn’t convinced you to floss, check out WaterPik’s article.
They will tell you why a “water flosser” is so much more effective. I have to say that I LOVE my WaterPik. Dr. G recommends alternating between string floss and the WaterPik and, of course, coming to see him every 3-6 months.]