The U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture recently removed its flossing recommendation from its dietary guidelines. This change was precipitated by a media request that revealed that the effectiveness of flossing has never been researched and/or produced data confirming its benefits. That has had many patients wondering: should I continue to floss?
This question became even more prominent after the Associated Press, the media outlet that made the initial inquiry, launched its own research into the subject. AP looked at 25 studies that addressed the benefits of flossing with and without brushing. The results revealed the evidence of flossing benefits is “weak, very unreliable.”
“At our practice, we have been and will continue to be big proponents of flossing but I can understand it being difficult to prove its effectiveness in a formal study for the simple reason that everybody’s mouth is different and, most importantly, not everybody flosses the exact same way and not always correctly,” said Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD, whose practice is located at 1121 Main Street in South Weymouth. “Anecdotally speaking I feel comfortable in stating that the patients we see who do floss have fewer issues than those who don’t.”
Besides using the incorrect flossing technique—removing debris from the gaps between teeth —patients can also fall into habits that minimize effectiveness. For example, some patients do not take the time required to do a good job and simply run the floss between their teeth without going under the gums where the plaque can be most destructive.
“The key part of flossing is consistency and technique. Flossing is the most effective means we have right now of removing food debris and plaque from between your teeth. And it certainly is more effective than doing nothing at all,” said Dr. Wolfert. “We advocate a multi-pronged approach that includes flossing ideally twice a day (morning and before bedtime); with the bedtime flossing and brushing regimen being the most important.”
In addition to flossing, Dr. Wolfert recommends brushing a minimum of two times per day for a as long as it takes to do a thorough job (normally 3-5 minutes) He also advocates using other dental tools based on a patients individual circumstance or condition. Most importantly, Dr. Wolfert believes in regular checkups with your dentist every six months.
“People do not always stick to the six month time table. Letting your checkup go a month or two might not seem like a big deal, especially if you aren’t in pain or having any issues. But it can be if you’re daily habits are inconsistent or your technique is flawed,” said Dr. Wolfert. “When we see patients twice a year it’s much easier to monitor the results of your daily hygiene and get in front of any problems,” said Dr. Wolfert.
Dr. Wolfert’s practice,The Toothboss, is located near Union Point at 1121 Main Street in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. For more information on correct brushing and flossing technique, you can visit Dr. Wolfert’s website at www.toothboss.com or call 781-335-0604 to schedule a consultation.
About The Toothboss
The Toothboss offers: comprehensive examinations (written treatment and treatment plan provided); cosmetics; crowns, bridges and tooth-colored restorations; partial and full dentures; periodontics (early cases treated); oral surgery; restoration of conventional and small diameter implants; and emergency services (24-hour emergency phone number available).
The Toothboss accepts most insurance plans. They also accept payment from most PPO and indemnity plans, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Delta Dental. They also accept all major credit cards and have arranged payment plans through Springstone.
To schedule an initial consultation, please call 781-335-0604. For more information, visit www.toothboss.com.