For years and years, we and other dentists have been drilling into not only your teeth, but your heads, that flossing is one of the most important steps of your morning or nightly routines. That flossing is crucial in the prevention of gingivitis and gum disease. That if you don’t floss every single day of your life, all of your teeth will fall out by the age of 30!!! Whatever you heard, one thing was certain: flossing was just as important as brushing your teeth… which might not be as true as we once believed.
You may have heard about all the hubbub late last year: flossing might be ineffective. It started out when the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services did not mention flossing in one of their reports on dietary guidelines for Americans. A short time after that, the Associated Press released an article called, “Medical benefits of dental floss unproven” in which it suggested that there is only weak evidence for flossing’s effectiveness.
The article called attention to the fact that all of the evidence that people have been basing their beliefs on used outdated methods and tested on too few people for a only a short amount of time. Basically, the AP cracked open a case that was thought to be tightly sealed for generations. The phrase “Don’t forget to floss!” has been so ingrained in the dentistry vernacular that it has become the punchline of several jokes in movies and TV shows.
So what now? Do you just give up flossing?
…Well, not to sound like a cheesy joke, but we still say, “Don’t forget to floss!”
These reports are merely saying that there is no positive evidence towards flossing to indicate its drastic effectiveness, but there is also no negative evidence. Dentists have no good reason NOT to tell you to floss and, really, it couldn’t hurt! In fact, it can still be beneficial in the removal of bacteria and food debris. The American Dental Hygienists Association has responded to any naysayers by offering their support for flossing done “with proper technique.” But what does that exactly mean?
Never worry! We are here to tell you how to floss with the “proper technique” to get the job done effectively!
- Pull out around 18 inches of floss and wind it around whichever finger gives you the most control. Do this on both hands so that there is only a few inches of taut string in between fingers.
- Slide the floss in between the teeth. Run it back and forth along each side of each tooth.
- When you reach the gum, do NOT snap or force it in. Contour the floss into a c-shape, then gently slide it in between the gumline and tooth to remove any debris under the very edge of the gumline.
- Repeat process for each tooth, making sure to use a clean piece of the floss each time.
- Don’t forget to floss the backside of your teeth!
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Our knowledgeable dentists can answer any other questions you may have about flossing or gum disease and gingivitis. Schedule your appointment to see how you can have an overall healthy mouth–including in between teeth–today!