Dentists say flossing is still the way to go for oral health. Image by: Michael Rowe
Before you chuck the floss, you should know that we went to the experts and, study or no study, flossing is still a must.
Should we say goodbye to dental floss? A new investigation by the Associated Press has found that, despite dentists' long-time recommendations, there isn't any proof that flossing is essential for proper oral hygiene. Unsurprisingly, news outlets took this as an opportunity to debunk accepted dental wisdom and everyone on social media seemed really excited about throwing out the floss. But we wanted to know if this news was too good to be true (or the worst idea ever, depending on who you asked in the office!), so we called up a couple of pros. As it turns out, we should definitely continue flossing.
“I thought to myself, ‘This is crazy!’” says Dr. Natalie Archer, an award-winning dentist from Archer Dental in Toronto who sees evidence of flossing's benefits every day in her patients. “Flossing works."
Dr. Archer says flossing was designed to reach areas of your teeth that your toothbrush cannot, but she warns that not using the right technique can actually be bad for your teeth. “You have to make sure you get around all your teeth, and do it regularly,” she adds. She recommends practicing, researching, and checking with dentists about proper flossing procedure.
Dr. Michelle Zwicker in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland agrees. She says the consequences of not flossing daily are clear: short-term effects include bleeding and inflamed gums, visible plaque, stains and bad breath. In the long-term, skipping the floss can lead to cavities and massive bone loss around your teeth. “The longer bacteria stays on the teeth and under the gums, the higher the risk of developing these oral diseases, which in turn affect your overall health,” she says.
But you shouldn't rely on flossing entirely; there are other steps to ensure proper oral health, Dr. Zwicker says, including minimizing acidic drinks and sugar, and using fluoride.
There you have it: unfortunately for our lazy mornings, flossing should still be a part of our daily routines. It's a little thing, but “all the little things add up,” says Dr. Zwicker.