So We’ve Heard A Lot about Flossing In the News Recently…
As many of you have heard, several Canadian and American prominent news outlets began publishing a story about the lack of scientific evidence and studies about the true effectiveness of flossing to prevent gum disease and cavity/decay formation. From this finding, many newscasters went so far as to correlate this fact with the assumption that flossing is useless, and that dental professionals have been promoting and pushing an incorrect habit for decades. As dental professionals (and as you would probably assume!), we strongly disagree with this misleading promotion. Our dentists at Yonge and Lawrence explains!
So How Did This Report Come About?
To come to this conclusion, the Associated Press recently went through data and studies that several dental associations published indicating the benefits of dental flossing. With their investigation, they realized that there was no conclusive study the confirmed flossing did any good, and the studies that did show some benefit were flawed due to their low sample size.
Despite that these facts are true, what the AP failed to realize and publicized was that even though flossing hasn’t yet been proven to be beneficial, it has not been disproven as being of some benefit. That is a huge jump in logic, and a huge fact to overlook! So let’s just use a little common sense and intuition to really see what we should continue to floss!
Flossing Preventing Cavities:
Dental cavities are started when dental plaque in the mouth, a thin biofilm, lingering on teeth for too long. Dental plaque is formed when the normal bacteria flora in the mouth combine with the sugars and carbohydrates of food debris eaten to create a biofilm. Once formed, dental plaque adheres on to teeth and gum surfaces, creating and producing acid which begins to erode teeth. This is why we brush our teeth every night; to remove this plaque! When this plaque is on the tooth structure, it can be easily removed by scrubbing bristles over it.
Bristles of toothbrushes, as you can imagine, cannot fit between the teeth, especially where there are tight contacts. (You can try it for yourself!) It’s for this reason that intuitively, a cleaning product needs to be used to remove the plaque from between the tight areas of teeth! Hence the use of floss! Plaque removed from all tooth surfaces = No acid to cause decay = Happy Teeth!
Flossing Preventing Gum Disease:
Like cavities, gum disease (also known as gingivitis, or a more severe, periodontitis) is caused by dental plaque remaining along the gum/gingiva surface for too long. The plaque causes gum inflammation, bleeding gums, and if severe enough, bone loss and even tooth mobility and loosening. Dental plaque left undisturbed eventually hardens and forms calculus/tartar which can only be removed with dental instruments during a dental cleaning appointment. So just like to prevent dental cavities, plaque must be removed to stop the progression of gum disease. Floss is the best way to reach deep into the pockets to remove plaque between teeth.
So In Summary…
Although there may not be any proven studies which shows the benefits of flossing, intuitively you can imagine why continuing flossing would still be a smart decision. And if you still need some proof whether or not floss removes plaque, you can try an experiment tonight! After eating your usual three meals (and maybe a few cheat snacks!) and before you go to bed, floss between all of your teeth. Once you are done, just look down at that piece of floss and check out all the slimy, white, gooey film that you removed from your teeth, still lingering on the floss! That’s plaque! And that’s plaque removed from your teeth!
For any further questions, please contact our dentists at Yonge and Lawrence! We would be happy to answer any outstanding questions.