To Floss or Not to Floss. That is the Question.

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To Floss or Not to Floss?

Floss. Yearly mammograms. Coffee. Kale. Eggs. The list of items once touted as essential to good health that have subsequently been debunked or called into question due to new research is endless. And confusing. Even Hamlet himself would be spinning in circles trying to figure out these conflicting recommendations that seem to change every other week. The latest controversy involves flossing. For decades we have been told that flossing is absolutely essential to maintaining good oral health. Flossing helps you to maintain dental health by polishing tooth surfaces, controlling bad breath and getting rid of pieces of food and plaque from between your teeth. If left to fester, this debris can build up, irritating the gums and causing inflammation and ultimately disease.

Recently, the airwaves and print media have been filled with headlines such as this one from the New York Times: “Feeling Guilty About Not Flossing? Maybe There’s No Need.” What the heck? Have we all been duped all these years? The article goes on to say “For decades, the federal government — not to mention your dentist — has insisted that daily flossing is necessary to prevent cavities and gums so diseased that your teeth fall out." Turns out, all that flossing may be overrated. No need to worry. The overriding body of evidence supports what we have always been told, especially by your SEDA dental professionals – you should floss. Unlike a toothbrush, which cleans the tops and outer surfaces of the teeth and gums, floss is an interdental cleaner -- it's designed specifically to clean the tight spaces between the teeth and the gap between the base of the teeth and the gums.

The Bottom Line

Proper dental care -- including regular flossing -- can do more than keep your smile pretty and healthy. A healthy mouth can also help prevent much more serious diseases, some of which can be life-threatening [source: CDC]. Extensive research has shown that the bacteria that flourish in an unhealthy mouth can harm the rest of the body, leading to heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illness. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, so if periodontal disease -- disease of the teeth, gums and mouth -- contribute to these systemic diseases, then a tool such as flossing that helps improve oral health can play a major role in improving public health. It's a small, simple step that can have huge implications for your long-term health [sources: CDC, American Diabetes Association]. Bottom line. To floss or not to floss? No question. Floss, if you want to remain happy and healthy. Call SEDA Dental today to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and see if you're flossing correctly!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.