Flossing story misses the point

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Common sense — and science — still make a case for flossing

By Dr. Stephanie McGann, DMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

UTStephCollogoRecently the Associated Press reported a story that there were no studies available on the efficacy of flossing. Suddenly dentists were asked by patients if this means they really don’t have to floss. I want to take this opportunity to voice my opinion on this latest news story.

It’s true; no taxpayer dollars have ever been spent researching the obvious. The evidence is more than clear – if you leave debris between your teeth bad things happen. What we do have tons of research on is the mechanism of tooth decay and gun disease.

Teeth decay when they are exposed to the acids produced by oral bacteria as they consume sugars in the food we eat. Food debris left in the mouth and between and teeth will speed up the decay process. Cleaning between the teeth and removing food debris will lessen the damage caused by these foods. Flossing between the teeth is an effective way to remove food debris lodged between teeth.

There are a lot of ways to floss -- an approach for everyone.

There are a lot of ways to floss — an approach for everyone.

Gum disease is a result of the toxins produced by other oral bacteria that live in the plaque, tartar and biofilms in our mouths. If left unchecked, these toxins will cause serious gum irritation and bleeding (Gingivitis) or destruction of the bones and ligaments that support our teeth (Periodontal Disease). The best prevention for both common dental concerns is thorough dental hygiene. Yes, dental floss is an important tool.

So while the article is true – it doesn’t tell the whole story. Is floss the only way to clean between your teeth? No, there are all sorts of tools, picks, interdental brushes that do the same job. They have a lot more research and cost a whole lot more money.

Recently the U.S. department of health of human services reaffirmed flossing as an important part of oral hygiene.  The American Dental Association also continues to support the use of dental floss. Read More

I have to visit my soap box here for a moment (apology in advance).   Why is this news? No dentist ever made a dime off of telling their patients to floss. Where is the return on investment on a quarter of a million dollar education in telling patients how to prevent the need for our services? Now – thanks to the short sightedness of Associated Press dentists across America are spending valuable patient care time defending the use of dental floss.

Take the time to look at the big picture. Ask your dental professional for advice on what sort of oral hygiene tools are best for you.

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and along with her partner, Dr. Marie Scott, operates The Brandywine Smile Center, a family-friendly dental practice in Concordville. Dr. McGann has opened a new practice in Valley Township, Rainbow Valley Dental. She is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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