I love Taco Bell Meximelts. I know I could probably eat 5 in one sitting, but shouldn’t.
I know I could probably skip an oil change, but shouldn’t.
The ADA recently announced that people can stop flossing. They shouldn’t.
The ADA recently stated that there isn’t enough historical evidence to support that flossing makes a significant difference in oral health.
I can tell you, it does.
Imagine washing your hands, but not scrubbing between your fingers. Better yet, imagine going “Big Potty” as my two year old calls it, and simply taking a shower later that day to clean up. It wouldn’t take long before you’d get a serious infection…and a fair share of comments from your friends and family.
The same logic applies here.
“But Doc, my gums don’t hurt. They bleed when I floss.”
Absolutely. Nature designed our gums and teeth to handle the wear and tear of chewing. Our mouths are wired differently than the rest of our body. Healthy gum tissue doesn’t have a large blood supply, and doesn’t bleed when poked or prodded. If it did, we would bleed every time we ate Doritos. I can go in between gum tissue with a sharp instrument and not only does it not bleed, it often isn’t even tender.
When gum tissue is irritated by bacteria and debris on our teeth, our body sends extra blood to those areas to fight off the infection. The gums swell up like water balloons, become fragile and bleed. To keep it simple, your body begins to sense the tooth as a source of infection. If this lasts for too long, your body will begin to try to get rid of the tooth..hence the beginning of bone loss.
The bacteria in our mouth are some of the nastiest out there. If you get bitten by another person and go to the hospital, the wound won’t be stitched up. The human mouth has so much bacteria that is can cause sepsis and shock if closed up in the body. When you have bleeding gums, you are opening the door for these bacteria to get into your blood stream and cause damage, serious damage to your organs, particularly your heart. This is backed by tons of evidence, as well as the ADA.
“ So Doc, why did the ADA say it’s OK not to floss?”
They didn’t. Look closely. What they are saying is that they haven’t been able to get enough high quality data to formally make a connection. Too few controlled trials had been performed, likely because 1) too few test subjects were able to comply for long enough and 2) there are too many variables to isolate (health, age, diet, genetics, environment, etc.)
So there you have it. I hope that helped put things into perspective. Most people I know find flossing to be tedious and difficult. I can understand that. So is loading the dishwasher and sorting laundry. That’s why I do those things while watching Sportscenter. Floss while you’re watching TV…I bet you won’t mind.
Just wash your hands when you’re done. Between your fingers too!