My hygienist and I don’t enjoy belaboring the issue of flossing. We’d like to help you discover the way you can and will best clean between your teeth and inspire you to be consistent. We have seen, over and over again, that the great majority of patients who regularly clean between their teeth have limited or no gum bleeding, and their gum tissue is healthy. Fortunately, there are a few flossing alternatives you may enjoy better.
You may have read the Associated Press article that stated there is no benefit to flossing. If you have dental caries or gingivitis, though, you do need to clean between your teeth at the gum line to improve your oral health. And there is new research evidence from France indicating that even caries free mouths without flossing are abundant in bacteria and fungus. This is leading clinicians to still urge all patients disrupt the biofilm between teeth to lower the risk of dental decay in the tight space between teeth.
“You do want to floss in some way, whether it be with string floss, a Waterpik, or another interdental device for flossing alternatives,” says Dr. Jamie Alexander of Boynton Beach, FL. “And, you want to do it daily. Develop the habit. Don’t abandon it.”
We want you to take this seriously, so you are not faced with the need for restoration of your teeth (fillings, crowns, etc.) and periodontal therapy such as root planing and scaling–in order to save your teeth. Also, keep in mind that healthy teeth and gum tissue are essential for a beautiful smile and your overall systemic health.
The vast majority of individuals that have gum inflammation are not aware their bodies are fighting this inflammation. If a large percentage of people have this often low-grade and chronic infection, then the majority of people need to disrupt the biofilm that collects between their teeth at the gum line.
If you hate flossing with dental string and just never do it, well, then what will you do? That is a question only you can answer. Here are some options. After brushing, use a Waterpik® (water flosser). If you are watching the sink, you will see debris flushed from between your teeth. Using a water flosser after brushing will help halt gum pocket progression and allow your gums to firm up as your body heals. Another tool that patients can use is GUM Brand, Soft-Picks and Proxabrushes. Soft-picks have a rubbery tip and Proxabrushes have a bristled end (like a pipe cleaner) that can be worked between teeth. If you have large spaces between some teeth, the Proxabrush is the better choice. Keep in mind that these tools, in addition to your toothbrush, should be used regardless of whether you are cleaning natural dental enamel or dental restorations, including around the base of implant restorations.
At Jamie Alexander D.D.S., we hope our patients understand that we don’t urge you to floss just because it is our duty. We urge you to do so because we care about you. You come to us because you want our help in staying healthy. This unspoken contract, that you and we enter into, includes our professional clinical advice.
If your primary physician diagnosed you with diabetes, you wouldn’t ignore the condition, would you? You’d change your lifestyle and accept the health care and medications your doctor recommended. In the case of gum disease and dental caries, these progressive diseases will take your oral and systemic health down a damaging slope. Just as a change in eating and exercise habits will lower diabetic risk factors, a change in daily oral hygiene will lower oral disease factors.
If you aren’t intentionally cleaning between your teeth at the gum line every day, why not? Maybe a change in interproximal cleaning tools will make it more pleasant for you.