The Importance of Flossing and Everything In-Between

You may have come across some news recent stories speculating the efficacy of flossing, stating that the evidence for doing so is “weak, very unreliable,” and of “very low” benefit. However, many dental care professionals continue to stand up for the practice, and I, Dr. Jerry Vasilakos along with the staff at Planet Dentistry, am one of them.

The most common place that tooth decay begins is, in fact, between teeth. Consider the set-up of your dentition: there are five surfaces to the tooth—the cheek side, the tongue side, the biting surface, the side closest to the front of your mouth (mesial), and the side closed to the back of your mouth (distal).

The teeth, tongue, and biting sides are exposed, meaning they can be reached easily with a brush. Whether using a simple toothbrush, a Sulcabrush, or (the preferred method) an electric toothbrush, you can accomplish a thorough cleaning of these areas, with no problem.

However, the remaining two sides (distal and mesial) that are in contact with the adjacent teeth, cannot be cleaned properly with any toothbrush on the face of this earth—no matter how electric. Devices like a water pick will certainly help flush the gums, but still this is not enough. Without being able to pass through the contact of the teeth, plaque will continue to accumulate; the only way to truly clean this area is by flossing.

Now, every person in the world—except, of course, newborn babies—has bacteria in their mouth. This is unavoidable, and there is nothing we can do to actually remove 100 percent of those bacteria. But there is a way to minimize it, flossing in conjunction with consistent oral hygiene habits (like brushing 3 times a day) will help to take a load off of your body’s natural defenses.

Done properly, sliding the string between your teeth—perfecting the up-and-down motion for best results—can never hurt. This brief activity in your daily dental routine will help minimize bleeding from your gums, improve your breath and contribute to a healthy smile. Give a little, get a lot.

Dr. Vasilakos, flossing teeth teeth