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.
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?
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?”