Does the latest news about flossing have you confused or even happy? Don’t toss your floss just yet! Our government has endorsed flossing since 1979 when the Surgeon General and then later in the report Dietary Guidelines for Americans stated that daily flossing reduces both dental caries (cavities) and periodontal disease.
The problem with this latest news from US Health and Human Services is that there is not enough long term, evidence based studies. The report that just came out only looked at 10 years of data and did not find enough adequate studies to confirm nor deny that this practice is helpful. This does not mean that flossing does not work!
The bacteria that live in our mouths are live and make a substance called plaque biofilm. Daily flossing does two things for our mouths:
1. Mechanically removes millions of bacteria
2. Disturbs the biofilm.
If left untouched, this plaque biofilm is allowed to grow and multiply, causing an overgrowth of bad bacteria in our mouths. If we are not removing the bacteria, this overgrowth activates the immune system and causes chronic inflammation that can further damage our health. When our immune system is activated, it sends inflammatory and chemical mediators to the area, such as white blood cells. These mediators can cause inflammation and bone loss. Some of the mediators are inflammatory chemicals such as C- reactive protein which is a marker for inflammation that causes coronary artery disease. This is just one of the inflammatory markers our bodies make when under attack! It’s imperative that we disturb this biofilm so that bacteria is not allowed to flourish and trigger these reactions.
It is our stance that everyone should continue to floss for health and wellness! If you are having trouble with your flossing technique, see our dental hygiene department for tips and tricks to make flossing more comfortable and effective. Happy flossing!
-Jeanie Grondzik RDH COA