Nothing Beats Flossing... Nada

Plaque is the major cause of dental disease, flossing is the best unbeaten method of removing plaque between teeth. Then why are there just 12% of us actually flossing? The American Dental Association states that more than half of the population over the age of eighteen shows signs of early stages of periodontal disease (gum bacterial infections). Periodontal disease is considered to be the most widespread disease for people over the age of forty. Meanwhile, the Surgeon General reports that seniors 50-74 of age have a higher rate of periodontal disease compared to young adults.

Flossing is clearly the cheapest most effective way of getting rid of unwanted bacteria between teeth. Why is there not an increased emphasis in flossing? Why are we not seeing more government sponsored ads promoting the importance of flossing? How come we don’t have a Disney-type character flossing hero? I’m sure Superman flosses… If not, I’m pretty sure Lady Gaga does…

Healthy gums are not supposed to bleed when flossed. There is a widespread mindset of accepting tooth loss as a normal part of aging. The dentistry industry seems to have followed the symptom-relief path of their medical industry brother. Instead of advising in order remove the root of the problem (pun intended) “many patients have found dentistry to be merely a series of pain-relieving treatments while, over the years they gradually lose their teeth” (Healthy Teeth User’s Manual, 1997).

Never mind if you do not enjoy flossing, it’s a chore, granted. This is a habit most of us badly need. We need to exercise, we need to keep our bodies lean and clean, we need to eat right and we need to floss.

Benefits of Flossing

1. Is cheap! (Especially compared to a root canal).

2. Promotes healthier gums.

3. Prevents tooth loss.

4. Elongates your life.

5. Sexier morning breath.

6. Polishes tooth surface.

7. Eliminates teeth sensitivity.

8. Gives a new skill.

9. Enhances stronger enamel.

10. Cultivates higher self-esteem.

You Could Die For Not Flossing

Of course gingivitis is not the leading cause of death in the United States, but a few non-flossers have died because of this. Each remaining tooth increases your longevity for about 4%, whereas individuals that never flossed increased their death rate for about 30%. Dentures do not compensate in terms of survival, and although they would be a required item… Won’t you rather keep your own teeth?

Mouthwash vs. Flossing?

I would argue that flossing daily is not enough, but I am no dentist. It just doesn’t ring as right to allow food particles to linger in-between teeth for at least 24 hours until the next flossing session and be content with plain brushing between meals. Of course, for political correctness purposes (aka, I have no money for lawsuits) I have to insist that you check that up with your dentist; the same dentist that received a letter from Pfizer in 2004 sustaining how their Listerine Antiseptic® mouthwash specifically was as good as flossing alone, and a whole lot easier. And yes, the American Dentist Association (ADA) echoed their statement. So if they said it must be true, right? – No!

In 2005, Pfizer was ordered to indemnify McNeil with the modest sum of $2 million and mobilized about 4,000 workers across the country to replace the misleading labels of its product. Pfizer’s alleged plan, according to McNeill’s lawsuit, was to go after that 83% of the U.S. population that does not floss. That’s a lot of mouthwash!!! So, whatever Pfizer (Listerine) said all over the media, mouthwash is definitely not a susbstitute for flossing.

A blogger states: “I love flossing. I just do it when I’m sitting around bored, even when there’s nothing in my teeth. Only use the waxed ones though.” The next blogger describes him as “one strange dude”. Well, anyone comprising 12% of the U.S. population should be deemed strange. But in all fairness, I can’t get over the fact that there are still almost 90% of us not flossing at all, and then wonder about bleeding and receding gums!

Forget the Toothbrush? Never!

Clearly this doesn’t mean we should forget by any means our good ol’ soft-bristled toothbrush. Toothbrush is responsible for like 65% of the cleaning while flossing gets the other 35%. I hate to not give some points to mouthwash… Love the tingly feeling. And although the most important component in oral health is, go figure, water, one of the best things you can do for your gums is to floss. A soft-bristled toothbrush is another.

In any event, oral hygiene is much like food digestion. We all know food digestion starts at the mouth when teeth grind up those chunks of food into more manageable particles… Well, oral health has to start with flossing, which takes care of those bigger chunks of food particles. Then of course, we need to follow up with brushing, which gets rid of the smaller food particles. Top it up with mouthwash to take care of microbial, bacteria, and the like, and of course finish with water. If you want to really cater your gums, also try massaging them every once in a while using your thumb and your index finger and pressing all around your gums… gets the blood flowing and does the trick for pampered gums! If your toothbrush bristles are soft enough, brush your gums, it also does the trick and its easier.

This process might sound like a drag, but like everything in life, with practice and good habit forming, takes minutes of a day. Actual flossing could take but a minute –in real time. Although steps required to proper flossing abound, one should not think much or analyze much about the how, but concentrate on the why… You need to get that stuff out from between your teeth… you need to… Once you realize you need to you will find the how a lot easier.

Help Spread Peace of Mouth

On November of each year, right after Thanksgiving, a National Flossing Day is held by the National Flossing Council. His president, Mr. Armand Lione, keeps a flossing advocacy website where he and like-minded followers dwell on the importance of flossing and profile celebrities that, well, do radical things –like flossing in public. One of their favorite flossers is Ellen Degeneres.

Sites like these are important because they advocate for the 'little guy'. It should not be a surprise that poor dental care goes along with financial status, social strata and education level. When it comes to flossing, ignorance can surely be painful. Study reveals that “women with periodontitis are eight times more likely to give birth to premature low birth weight babies and have pre-term delivery”. In North Carolina a study was conducted among Medicaid recipients, and found that half of the Medicaid recipients’ children never used dental services. Similar findings are true for counties in Alabama and Georgia, among others.

An -Oral- Side Note

On a related oral health note, teeth natural color is not white and it does no good to them to be scrubbing them until they get white. Any toothpaste can effectively remove tartar, all the while anti-tartar control formulas have been long questioned due to safety upon their interaction with saliva. Also, fluoride works best when taken internally, which makes fluorinated water a must. Studies show that “fluorinated water saves an estimated of $80 per person in yearly dental treatment costs, yet it costs about 50 cents per year to the government.”

So, why did New York for example eliminated fluoride from their water systems? –They explained people receive enough fluoride already. If they say it must be telling the truth, right? –No.

I'm sold! How do I Get Into the Flossing Habit?

1. Do not limit yourself to just one. Like I said above, flossing is cheap, so splurge! Get several (maybe five) dental flosses (waxed are the best kind, waxed and minty are superb!) and keep them handy around the house, in your purse, your stash drawer or working area.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right at first. The main reason such a high majority of the population does not floss is because they find it so complicated.

3. Be willing to do anything to save your gums. Especially you need to get by how weird and funny you look when you’re flossing… this is quality of life worth fighting for. If it takes to be humbled by funny faces and wet hands to achieve it, so be it.

4. Don’t make a big event out of it. Do not wait for a special moment or circumstance to floss. Since you have your dental flosses all around, any moment is good… You wash your hands often, right? Act accordingly and floss away!

If He Can Do It...

Flossing Monkey