To Floss or Not to Floss?

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To Floss or Not to Floss?

by PD-loginswe, on 16th November 2016 | 0 comments

There was a lot of debate recently, regarding the ineffectiveness of flossing following a report from the United States questioning its true benefits in reducing gum disease and tooth decay. The worrying thing about this, is the potential for media to misinform the general public who may not investigate the ‘science’ behind the study.

Gum disease and tooth decay affect the biting surfaces and in between your teeth due to the nature of the anatomy. The pits and grooves on the biting surface become vulnerable areas if not regularly cleaned with a toothbrush, whilst in between it is impossible for the bristles on a toothbrush to penetrate. Only approximately 65% of the total surface area of one’s teeth is cleaned by using a toothbrush without other interdental cleaning aids.

Done regularly, flossing helps disrupt biofilm and remove food debris stuck at the contact point between teeth. Biofilms are microscopic communities of bacteria and the slimy matrix they make to stick to surfaces. If not disrupted biofilm will “mature” over time and then spread. Plaque is actually a biofilm that’s large enough to be seen with the naked eye. The more mature the biofilm is, the more likely to contain a higher percentage of bad bacteria like Streptococus mutans that can eat sugar and turn it into acid which can then cause tooth decay. The goal is to remove as much of the biofilm as you can. Flossing in combination with brushing can help to achieve this.

However flossing may be ineffective in areas where there has been previous gum disease, this usually results in gum shrinkage and gaps due to our immune system’s response to bacterial build up in our mouth. In such cases we recommend the use of interdental brushes, the most common brands include Curaprox and Tepe Interdental Brushes of various diameters will help clean effectively in between your teeth to remove plaque and promote a healthy environment in your mouth. Logic should always supersede science especially when the methods used in studies that portray such reports are poor and not applicable to general society.

In summary, please:

  • Brush gently for at least 2 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste twice daily.
  • Remember to replace your toothbrush approximately every 3 months (or when the bristles start splaying).
  • Clean in between your teeth as instructed by your dentist, hygienist or therapist.
  • Visit your dental team regularly to ensure your dental and general health is monitored.

By Marius Ilea

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