To floss, or not to floss? That is the question.
Well, it’s actually only the question if you don’t mind the answer being yes; otherwise, you may suffer from gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
Your family dentist in Portland cannot stress enough just how important a role flossing plays in protecting the long-term health of your teeth and gums. Despite the importance of daily flossing, however, 36 percent of Americans would rather engage in an unpleasant activity like doing their taxes, waiting in line at the DMV, or sitting in traffic rather than floss, according to a survey conducted by the American Dental Association.
So if you’re one of the millions of people who cheered last year when the Associated Press completed a review of 25 studies and asserted that flossing offered no proven health benefits, know that you were not alone.
Adding further fuel to the anti-flossing bonfire, both the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services removed flossing from their guidelines for quality oral health.
Finally, You’re Free from Flossing!!
Well, not so fast. The majority of the oral health community has yet to embrace the idea that flossing offers no long-term health benefits.
While the research connecting the development of cavities and flossing remains uncertain, the research regarding the role of flossing in preventing gum disease is far more conclusive. That’s just one of the reasons your family dentist in Portland continues to recommend that our patients at Portland Family Dentistry floss daily.
One recent review of 12 different studies found that individuals who flossed and brushed regularly were less likely to develop bleeding gums. They also enjoyed lower levels of gum inflammation – more commonly referred to as gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease – as well.
That’s because food that’s left to fester between our teeth causes gum inflammation and tooth decay. A toothbrush cannot clean between these areas of the mouth, which means that flossing is the only solution.
The Connection Between Flossing & Our Health
Approximately half of all Americans suffer from some degree of gum disease, with 33 percent suffering from periodontitis, a severe form of the disease and leading cause of permanent tooth loss.
Recent studies have also found compelling links between gum disease and a number of chronic, long-term health issues that include arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, premature birth, dementia, and cancer.
Your mouth basically acts as a mirror for the rest of your body. The unhealthier your mouth, the unhealthier your body becomes.
While the link between gum disease and overall health isn’t entirely understood, researchers have several theories they believe explain the connection. Some researchers believe that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream, where it may contribute to inflammation in other parts of the body, such as the heart or joints. What researchers do know, however, is that individuals who don’t suffer from gum disease are less likely to develop health problem such as heart disease.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology recommend that patients continue to floss. In fact, the reason both of these organization and your family dentist in Portland continue to recommend flossing isn’t due to research as much as it’s due to what we see in patients.
At Portland Family Dentistry, it’s clear that the patients who floss daily have healthier gums and keep their teeth far longer when compared to those who skip out on this important habit. It’s even common for patients suffering from early-stage cavities to reverse the effects of the decay by improving their flossing habits and by brushing.
So if you’re still questioning whether flossing is worth the time and effort, just consider this: it takes less than a minute, offers no downside, and could potentially save your life.
To floss, or not to floss? We now know the answer to that question!