There have been some recent news reports that have challenged the idea of flossing being an essential aspect of people caring for their teeth and gums. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has confirmed that the act of regular flossing is an important part of maintaining good oral health. According to the American Dental Association, an individual should floss between their teeth at least once daily. It is an effective way to eliminate plaque that isn’t removed by regular teeth brushing. Flossing is also important when it comes to helping a person avoid gum disease, cavities and more. 

American Dental Association(ADA)

The ADA still recommends that all individuals clean between their teeth. This is known as interdental cleaning or flossing. A person can use regular string floss or choose a device for their interdental flossing. Choosing between different flossing devices can be a challenge. There are significant differences between water flossers and air flossers, but there are also similarities. A water flosser will use water pressure to remove particles between teeth and gums. It shoots a thin stream of water. An air flosser uses microburst technology to remove particles between teeth and gums. It provides a quick burst of air in conjunction with water or drops of mouthwash. Both of these are popular alternatives for people who do not like using string floss.

Best Time to Floss

There is often a debate concerning when is the best time for a person to floss their teeth. Some individuals prefer flossing before they brush their teeth and others prefer after teeth brushing. MouthHeathy.org conducted a poll that asked people their flossing preference. Over 52 percent said they brushed their teeth prior to flossing and approximately 46 percent said after teeth brushing. According to the ADA, both groups are correct. The important thing is for people to do a thorough job of flossing. It’s important for people to remember that flossing should not be painful. This is possible when a person works to find their comfort level with flossing. If the pain continues for an extended period of time; a person needs to see their dentist.

Flossing Research

Researchers from the New York University College of Dentistry recently conducted a study. It concluded that flossing is an effective way to decrease a person experiencing periodontal disease as well as eliminating bacteria that leads to cavities. Researchers created a study group consisting of over 1,000 pairs of twins. The study subjects were men and women who were both fraternal and identical twins. Their ages were up to 21 years old, and they were all from the poor northeastern Brazilian city of Montes Claros. The twins lived in the same homes and had similar eating habits as well as oral care habits. This is a neighborhood with little or no water fluoridation and people living there have little or no access to dental care. This is an environment where people are at a high risk for tooth decay. Half of the study group were instructed to floss regularly. The other half was told not to floss at all. After two weeks, the bacteria associated with tooth decay was abundant with the group that did not floss. The group that flossed experienced a significant decrease of bacteria that caused cavities as well as gingival bleeding. Mouth bleeding sores were decreased by more than 37 percent with those who flossed regularly during the study. 

Flossing Benefits

When a person flosses, it breaks up the bacterial and biofilm as well as the plaque on their teeth. Should these be permitted to remain on a person’s teeth, they will colonize. This can actually change the chemistry of a person’s mouth. It will enable pathogens to survive, which are things that cause disease. This makes it possible for someone to develop an infection as well as diseases in the structure of the mouth that supports their teeth. This can lead to the development of gum infections, gum disease as well as tooth loss.

Recommendations

The ADA has not changed its recommendations when it comes to having good oral health. They still recommend a person brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste. They also advise people perform interdental cleaning at least one time each day. They should also make regular visits to their dentists for checkups, teeth cleaning and anything else that is necessary.