OK, so I am being asked to comment on this hot topic in the news media for the past few months. This is gaining a lot of momentum based on the fact that majority of my patients that I come across are not hard core flossers.
The question that arises here is WHY people tend to avoid flossing:
* It is time consuming
* It is extra work
* It requires dexterity and technique
* It is monotonous and boring
* I’d rather get in bed then spend a few extra minutes flossing
* Some accuse flossing as damaging rather than benefiting and they say “My gums bleed when I floss”.
I mean, they give me an excuse to avoid this heavy task and a reason not to feel guilty at every dental hygiene appointment when asked this dreadful question, “Have you been flossing regularly?”
In comes this latest news about the “Medical Benefits of Flossing Unproven” or the New York Times article last month “Feeling guilty about not flossing? Maybe there is no need.”
What people are not focusing on is the word ‘maybe’ in the above article title.
One of the main problems is that research is lacking because there is none that was done primarily looking at the medical benefits of flossing.
For the medical benefits to be ascertained, we have to stop flossing and see where the world goes.
So I decided to do some research and look at this topic end to end.
When I first started to look at the other end I came across an invention in the late 1800s and that is toilet paper. It was originally made for areas of the world where there is not enough water to clean oneself. Well, the convenience of this hygiene product made it SO popular that it is a norm to use toilet paper these days. If I go and research further, I cannot find ANY medical benefits to toilet papering either! The use is totally hygienic!
Similarly NOT using toilet paper can cause a rash and a localized infection just as not flossing can lead to the same a rash and localized infection which on gums known as periodontitis and on teeth as decalcification and decay. So, YOU decide if you want to stop using toilet paper since there is no “research” showing any other medical benefit other than “Peri-analitis” (yes, I just made that term up!). I question what kind of medical correlation is needed. Not toilet papering makes the back area stink, not flossing makes the mouth stink. You connect the dots.
It is all in the state of hygiene and cleanliness that flossing comes to play because it goes in between teeth where brush does not go.
~ Dr. Bashar