Flossing-Just Do It!
"But I brush twice a day, Dr. Laura, isn't that enough?"
Unfortunately, I hear this question a lot. It's usually in response to my request, "So tell me a little bit about your flossing routine".
Flossing-the four letter word in the dental office. Most people brush. Most people do a good job at brushing. Most people DO NOT floss. This creates a lot of dentistry for me in the form of 'flossing cavities' and gum disease. Yes, I'm happy to help when you get a flossing cavity or when the gums need extra attention, but I'd rather my patients take the 1-2 minutes a day to floss and avoid the need for extra dental treatment.
A recent longevity study by Harvard Medical School researchers found one of the most important contributing factors to increasing longevity was daily flossing. Plague is made up of tons of bacteria. Plaque left between your teeth leads to periodontal(gum) disease which is a bacterial infection! Brushing with a manual toothbrush is NOT effective at cleaning the area between the teeth. If you are not flossing you are only cleaning about 60% of your teeth!
The American Academy of Periodontology has been warning us of a 'significant public health problem': Almost HALF of American adults have periodontitis(gum disease)! Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. The average number of teeth remaining in adults in America over age 65 is only 18!(We should have 32!) Research has also associated periodontal disease with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Plaque is the main cause of gum disease, but there are other factors that can affect your periodontal health as well. Smoking, genetics, medications, stress, poor nutrition, obesity, clenching or grinding your teeth, and other systemic diseases can all affect the health of your gums. Therefore, if you have any other risk factors, flossing becomes even more important!
Wow! 1-2 minutes a day, that's all we're asking! Floss. It does a body good!
*A really great resource for information on flossing and preventing periodontal disease is the American Academy of Periodontology's website:PERIO.ORG -check it out!*