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Is Flossing Really Necessary?

Is Flossing Really Necessary

Author: Michele Rolla

Is Flossing Really Necessary? 

I am going to get right to the point. Yes, oral health is essential, and flossing is a necessary component of maintaining proper oral health and hygiene. Without a healthy mouth we wouldn’t be able to eat. We wouldn’t be able to speak. We wouldn’t be happy and wouldn’t be able to smile.

“It is not known for sure when people started to floss. There is archeological evidence in the form of markings on the teeth of found skulls that people used to floss in prehistoric times.” (1)

The floss we know today was introduced approximately 200 years ago by an American dentist, Levi Spear Parmly. Back then it was made of silk. Today most floss is made of nylon, some with a waxed coating. Which one is better, waxed or unwaxed? The one you are going to use is best!

Dental floss is considered an interdental cleaner. It aids in the removal of debris and plaque between the teeth. It is essential to maintaining overall oral health. “When flossing is added to toothbrushing, there is a significant reduction in gingivitis.” (2)

You’re probably wondering which step should be done first, brushing or flossing. There is no right or wrong step one. The choice is yours as long as you make the choice to floss and not to skip it. What is not okay is reusing dental floss. When floss is reused bacteria is reintroduced to the mouth, which in turn further leads to gum disease and tooth decay. Yuck! Make sure to discard after each use.

Now that we established that flossing should be part of your daily routine, we should review how to properly floss your pearly whites. The following are five easy steps, recommended by the ADA, to help you get flossing. 

  1. “Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. 
  2. “Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.” 
  3. “Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.“ 
  4. “When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.” 
  5. “Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.” (3) 

As a final note, let’s address the elephant in the room with the recent stories surrounding dental floss and their potential toxins.

“The ADA sees no cause for concern based on current evidence, and above all continues to encourage people to clean between their teeth daily with floss or other interdental cleaner as part of the ADA’s daily oral hygiene recommendations.” (4)

Protect yourself. Brush, floss and SMILE! 

References: 

  1. http://www.historyofdentistry.net/dentistry-history/history-of-dental-floss/ 
  2. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/floss 
  3. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing-steps 
  4. https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2019-archives/january/ada-statement-on-study-involving-dental-floss 

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