Are you confused whether to spend the extra minute or so flossing every day? Recent reports have left many people wondering exactly that! Some of these reports focus on how the 2015 Dietary Guidelines did not include flossing. But the government has not changed its stance on the importance of cleaning between your teeth. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has simply chosen to focus its information more specifically on food and nutrients, rather than oral hygiene.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed in a statement to the American Dental Association that “flossing is an important oral hygiene practice. Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line. Professional cleaning, tooth brushing, and cleaning between teeth (flossing and the use of other tools such as interdental brushes) have been shown to disrupt and remove plaque.”
Flossing doesn’t just remove plaque. It also takes care of the 500 plus bacterial species found in it. While some of these bacteria can be good for your mouth, there aren’t nearly enough to make up for the bad ones. Combine these bad bacteria with food particles, water, and more, and you have a recipe for tooth decay and gum disease. There are good reasons why dentists and hygienists keep encouraging the ritual.
If flossing isn’t your thing, there are other ways to remove plaque and buildup between your teeth. A variety of interdental cleaners are available for consumers, ranging from small brushes to picks, and even water flossers. The important thing is to know and understand the proper technique for whichever tool you choose to use. Your dentist will be more than happy to answer any questions you have! In fact, Dr. Painter would be thrilled that you want to learn about maintaining a healthy smile.
The American Dental Association’s standards for good oral hygiene include brushing twice daily for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and being sure to clean between the teeth once daily with an interdental cleaner. Regular visits to your dentist, on top of these at-home practices, will help keep your smile looking and feeling beautiful!