Is Flossing the Best Way to Prevent Dental Disease?

Overview

The dentist’s mantra is to “brush and floss” but is flossing useful or could other protocols keep teeth cleaner and healthier? Flossing has devotees who trust it is the only way to oral health, but where did their emphatic belief originate, and what if they are wrong? We have no science to support flossing (even multiple times a day) as a method of preventing caries. Maybe we will look back in 50 years and laugh at the concept of cleaning teeth with a length of string. Dr. Ellie thinks it is time to lay the flossing parrot to rest, empower patients with new ideas, and help more people enjoy disease-free dental visits!

Ultimate Oral Health

Patients believe dentists know how to prevent cavities, yet many compliant patients end up with cavities and gum disease. Presumably dentists follow their own advice, but it’s no secret that plenty of dental professionals experience recession, caries, root canals and periodontal problems, and need fillings, extractions, bridges or implants. Some argue that people don’t follow directions, but this cannot excuse the damage dentists and hygienists experience.

Perhaps you believe fillings age, enamel thins, and teeth darken naturally, but what if the problem is our method of tooth care? What if brushing and flossing are inadequate to protect teeth against the ravages of life? Cochrane Database shows weak, unreliable evidence that flossing and brushing can reduce plaque at 1-3 months, and no studies indicate effectiveness of flossing and brushing to prevent caries.

Facts

seniors missing teeth

The Surgeon General’s Report in 2001 shows an epidemic of decay in 2 year olds, 70% of teenagers have fillings, and one in two 30 year olds has compromised periodontal health. By age 65 , 178 million Americans are missing teeth and over 35 million Americans are edentulous. The number of partially edentulous is expected to rise to 200 million over the next 15 years.

Patients enjoy dental visits when they feel empowered, but become fearful if they constantly need treatment or loose teeth for reasons they don’t understand. Perhaps it’s time to question the advice we offer patients and ask why, if caries and periodontal disease are preventable, don’t our strategies lead more people to ultimate oral health?

Fixing Damage

Imagine a handyman repairs a floor in your home. Every few years you call him to fix the work he has previously done. With each repair the project becomes more complicated, until eventually he tells you the entire floor must now be replaced. You are grateful for the excellent repairs and pay a substantial charge. Imagine when you discover the water faucet that is responsible for the damage, was never shut off. Continue reading “Is Flossing the Best Way to Prevent Dental Disease?”

To Floss or Not to Floss: Dr. Ellie’s interview with the BBC

Hear Dr. Ellie’s interview on the BBC World Service!  

BBC World Service

From the BBC World Service: Flossing is widely recommended, but for those of us who do not floss, we might take comfort from an increasing number of dentists who believe it is not the best way to prevent tooth decay or gum disease. Tooth decay is caused when bacteria in the mouth digest sugar, producing acid which eats away at the teeth. Gum disease on the other hand, is caused by a film of bacteria on the teeth known as plaque which irritates the gums. So does flossing make any difference? Dr Nigel Carter is chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation and Dr Ellie Phillips is a dentist in the US and author of Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye

Listen to the interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014g808

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Product Spotlight: Mouth Watchers Antibacterial Toothbrush

Do you need to brush your teeth? The answer is “yes” if you have adult teeth in your mouth. There are no studies to show a toothbrush can stop cavities, but it is an important tool to keep your gums healthy. You need a good toothbrush to stimulate blood circulation in your gums and for this, you need a clean, well-designed toothbrush.

As soon as adult molars erupt around 6 years of age, parents should take a serious interest in helping their kids learn how to brush. When you brush, it is important to aim at the gums, and worry more about massaging them, than trying to scrub your teeth to “clean” them.

Toothbrush bristles are too big to reach hidden places where decay starts. Even people who brush and floss perfectly can only remove 40% of plaque from their mouths. Trust Zellies Xylitol Mints and Gum to rid your mouth of 98% plaque using 5-10 grams of xylitol each day. Xylitol makes plaque slippery and controls its growth, so your teeth will be cleaned easily, especially if you are using our rinse routine, the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System.

Continue reading “Product Spotlight: Mouth Watchers Antibacterial Toothbrush”

10 Easy Ways to Improve Gum Recession

Many people worry about receding gums, and it is sometimes associated with loss of jaw bone. Don’t underestimate these symptoms, because they warn that something is wrong with the health of your mouth. On the other hand, if you believe the universal answer to dental problems is to brush and floss, I hope you will consider a different approach.

Gum recession is usually a symptom of too much cleaning or unbalanced mouth chemistry, which is why additional brushing and flossing may make things worse, not better. Pellicle is a slick, slippery film that covers healthy teeth and gums to protect them from scratchy foods, strong spices, hot and cold, and other things that we eat or drink. Harsh products that strip the pellicle layer from your mouth can cause recession. Without the waxy coating of pellicle, teeth stain, become sensitive, and easily wear away. Continue reading “10 Easy Ways to Improve Gum Recession”

Black Triangles: Is It Time to Stop Flossing?

The chances are that if you grew up in the US you have been well instructed in the art of brushing and flossing. I have seen people in braces struggling to thread floss around the wires and elastics of the appliances and older folks who could not stitch a button on a coat be instructed to floss around their last upper molar!

Even perfect flossing and brushing can only remove 40 percent of plaque from your mouth. This is because there is a plaque component in saliva (you can’t floss this) and also on your tongue and skin of your mouth. This is why mouth rinsing makes so much sense and why xylitol makes Zellies Complete Mouth Care System amazing. Adequate amounts (6-10 grams) of xylitol daily helps make plaque slippery so the rinses can better wash your teeth. Using this system should remove 98% of plaque from your mouth – twice as much as flossing!

The problem with over-brushing or constant flossing is that it has the potential to do damage to your teeth and gums. If you beat down your gums with wooden points, brushes and floss, don’t expect them to grow back again. The pretty pink gums between your teeth will disappear – and the empty space will be a black triangle between your teeth. If you have gum recession, consider a better system to clean your mouth. Think about giving yourself a flossing holiday and your teeth may become less sensitive in a matter of days.

How much gum repair you get will depend on other factors that revolve around how well you brush them and also your body’s ability to heal. This will depend on your general health, diet, lifestyle, age, etc. You can help yourself by taking supplements and probiotics and pay attention to your diet. To help heal gums, check you have enough protein in your diet, and if possible consume some organic whole milk yogurt and cheeses every day. Xylitol can be dissolved in water as a drink to sip during the morning and this will help make your gums more comfortable and give them the best chance to heal.

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For more information, please visit all of Dr. Ellie’s web-sites:

Dr. E Oral Health Coaching – articles, resources and videos to help you learn more
Zellies.com – learn more & order your Zellies Xylitol & the Complete Mouth Care System
Dr. Ellie.com – a great resource for learning more about oral health & Dr. Ellie

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