Benefits of Flossing & How Often You Should Floss Your Teeth, North York Dentist
The presence of plaque, oral bacteria, and food debris will create an ideal environment for initiating tooth decay. If the food debris or plaque is left undisturbed for a number of hours, the tooth decay process will begin. Initially, the tooth surface stays intact as the breakdown of the tooth happens beneath the hard outer enamel surface.
Gum disease or periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, affecting three out of four people at some point in life. It affects the gums and supporting structures of your teeth. If not treated, it can cause irreversible damage to the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. Under normal circumstances, many kinds of bacteria live and grow in a healthy mouth. Some cause tooth decay. Others form a sticky colourless film called plaque. As it accumulates, plaque appears as a soft, whitish coating. It forms constantly, but can be controlled by proper brushing and flossing. If not removed regularly, plaque can harden into tartar or calculus. The tartar coats and sticks to teeth and roots, allowing more plaque and bacteria to adhere to the teeth. The bacteria use the plaque and tartar to attach to your teeth and roots.
Tooth decay and gum disease will occur anywhere that food debris and plaque accumulate. The ideal spot is between teeth since it is difficult for the toothbrush bristles to remove or even attempt to remove any of the debris. That is why we recommend flossing or use of Soft Pics to remove the plaque and food debris.
In our clinical practice, we see evidence of it every day. We find reduced incidence of tooth decay and healthier gum tissue in our patients who use floss or other methods to remove food debris and plaque between teeth.
No, these types of clinical trial are very difficult to conduct to prove that flossing works. A clinical trial would need to enroll a large number of patients and monitor their oral health for at least 2 -3 years. This would be a very expensive clinical trial. If we designed the trial to compare patients who did floss to those who didn’t, we would be exposing the control group to situations where they would get tooth decay and gum disease. This is not an acceptable trial design. In most patients, gum disease and tooth decay progresses slowly so we would need at least 3 years to see the effect and watch as tooth material and gum tissue is destroyed in the process.
We know from lab studies how tooth decay is created. We know we need to remove plaque and food debris. There is no need, in our opinion, to run a clinical trial to look at how effective floss is. We only need to look at how effective each method is in removing plaque and food debris. One principle worth bearing in mind is that the absence of evidence of effectiveness is not equivalent to evidence of absence of effectiveness. It then comes down to weighing the probable risks and benefits.
We will continue to recommend brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste for at least 2 minutes at a time. We recommend brushing your teeth just before bed. Brushing in the morning upon awakening will give you a “fresher” taste in your mouth. Removing food debris and plaque between teeth is also critical and should be part of your oral health routine. One can use floss, interdental brushes or Soft Pics to accomplish this. Please ask our team for advice on the best techniques and products to help keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong.
The information provided is for general information purposes only and not intended to replace professional care. Please consult your physician or dentist for advice and diagnoses so you can be properly treated for your specific situation.
Downsview Plaza Dental Office
1078 Wilson Avenue
(at Keele Street)
Downsview, Ontario M3K 1G6
Phone: (416) 633-6443
Monday: 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.