September 2, 2016
If you’re a news hound or even a regular social media user, you probably saw a news item a few weeks ago about floss. The story, which was published by the Associated Press, alleged that the benefits of floss have been unproven. The report claimed that organizations like the American Dental Association and the federal government have not effectively studied the long-term effects of floss. The Associated Press pointed to a number of studies that could draw a positive link between flossing and reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
My worry is that people will read the report and discard floss for good. We dentists know that floss can remove food debris from between your teeth, and I still encourage my patients to floss to reduce the risks of tooth decay or gum disease. Floss is still an easy, low-cost routine. Health studies are important, but I would hesitant to go against the recommendations of dentists across the world. So, today, I just want to supply you with some facts about floss and gum disease. Consider these facts the next time you think about not flossing.
Brushing only cleans about 65 percent of the tooth. While most of your tooth is above the gum line, about 35 percent of the tooth is below the gum line. It’s nearly impossible to clean the root — the portion beneath the gum line — with your toothbrush. You need another tool — dental floss — to clean the root of your tooth.
Gum disease claims more teeth than anything. Gum disease can cause more havoc in your mouth than tooth decay or dental trauma. In fact, it’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Gum disease is caused by bacteria that gets trapped in the gums. If left untreated, gum disease can create a gap between the teeth and gums. Gum disease can even infect the jawbone, causing it to recede.
Gum disease is an overall health issue. Gum disease can cause rampant tooth loss. Tooth loss makes it difficult to eat the foods you need to maintain a healthy diet. At the same time, gum disease has been tied to serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship, but each of these problems is created by inflammation and plaque.
Early stages of gum disease can be cured. Gum disease typically starts with bleeding or swollen gums. The earliest form of gum disease, gingivitis, can be reversed. Unfortunately, the later stages of gum disease, periodontitis, cannot be cured. You’ll need constant care for the rest of your life. If you are struggling with gum disease, we recommend that you visit the dentist about once every three to four months for treatment. This is important, as the bacteria that causes gum disease can spread and multiply quickly.
Most people will struggle with gum disease in their lives. Gum disease is a widespread problem in this country. In fact, about 75 percent of people in this country will suffer from gum disease. This makes gum disease a huge issue, and honestly, I don’t read enough about it. Most patients who have gum disease are shocked to hear about the long-term effects of these serious problem.
As I said earlier, it’s important to look past the headlines for your medical advice. We suggest that you keep floss in your oral health plan. If you need a comprehensive dental checkup or would like to schedule a consultation with us, call today at 703-552-2530.