Yes, You Still Need to Floss – Here’s Why
Back in 2016, a report made waves by claiming that flossing wasn’t necessarily that helpful. This was interpreted by many outside the dental community to mean flossing wasn’t necessary at all. But that’s not really accurate. There is evidence that flossing does have a beneficial effect, and when it comes to your teeth, you don’t want to mess around, especially in light of a new report on gingivitis.
How the “No Flossing Necessary” Claim Got Any Traction
The original report claimed that there wasn’t sufficient evidence that flossing was necessary and that there wasn’t a reason to floss as much as your dentist told you to. While many decided that this mean they were home-free regarding not flossing, dentists had another take. They explained that the report said there wasn’t a lot of evidence, but that just meant that there wasn’t a lot of evidence that flossing was necessary, not that there was evidence that it was unnecessary.
And the Experts Say…
Dentists still want you to floss because it’s an easy way to clean the sides of your teeth that are typically inaccessible to your toothbrush. You might be able to get a few bristles in those spaces between your teeth, but for the most part, floss is the best way to remove all that plaque and food debris that accumulates throughout the day. And the removal of that debris can make a distinct difference in how your gums look. It’s so distinct, in fact, that dentists can tell whether you floss or not without any special tests. You just have to open your mouth.
Flossing with some sort of thread or string has been around for a couple hundred years, at least in official, dentist-recommended form. Picking food debris out of teeth has been around a lot longer than that, but it wasn’t until the early 1800s that a dentist started telling patients to use a silk string to clean in between teeth. Waxed dental floss as you know it appeared in the 1940s. So while there hasn’t been a lot of research into flossing specifically, there has been a long line of patients who proved, at least anecdotally, that flossing improved their oral health.
Removing debris from the sides of your teeth means there is less plaque to cause inflammation and provide a home for the bacteria that cause gingivitis, which is the inflammation and bleeding you sometimes see if you’ve skipped flossing for a while.
One More Reason to Floss
Prevention of gingivitis will become more urgent if one recent study holds any weight. Researchers have reported finding that the bacteria that cause gingivitis may also be involved with Alzheimer’s disease. They found that introducing the bacteria into mice led to brain changes similar to those found in Alzheimer’s. Researchers still don’t know if this means that the bacteria cause Alzheimer’s, but it’s a link that certainly calls for further research.
In the meantime, floss. Get that debris out of your mouth and prevent gingivitis. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to protect your oral health. At the very least, your teeth and gums will look a lot better, and you won’t have to deal with bleeding or lectures from your dentist.