A few months ago, the Associated Press published an article allegedly that the benefits of floss are unproven. It turns out that after years of advising patients to floss, there is little evidence that floss can reduce the risk of gum disease or tooth decay. This article piqued our interest, as does any news about oral health or teeth. After I read through the story, it turns out the article addresses the studies about floss, not the actual act of flossing.

So, I wouldn’t be comfortable telling patients that floss is not useful — and I don’t think that article proves that. The last thing I want patients to do is to stop flossing and put their teeth at risk. Today I want to review some facts about gum disease and floss.

Floss can clean 35 percent of the tooth. Even if you brush your teeth twice a day, you still might not be cleaning all of your tooth. About 65 percent of the tooth is above the gum line. Some toothbrushes can clean between the teeth and even below the gum line, but you still need to do more than brushing. That’s where floss comes in. Floss can clean the areas of the tooth that your toothbrush cannot reach. By flossing, you can remove food debris or bacteria from beneath the gum line or between the teeth.

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Dental decay or trauma can both cause tooth loss, but gum disease is by far the leading cause of tooth loss. The reason is that gum disease can run rampant in the mouth. If the infection in the gums is left untreated, it can make its way to the bone and cause the tooth to become loose or fail.

Gum disease has been linked to overall health issues. Though there is no cause-and-effect relationship between gum disease and major health problems like heart disease and diabetes, researchers have discovered that there is a correlation. Each of these problems deals with inflammation and plaque in the body. Today we know that gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease or diabetes.

Gum disease is treatable but not curable. The first signs of gum disease include bleeding or swollen gums. With proper intervention, you can reverse the first stages of gum disease, but the advanced stages of gum disease are not reversible. In fact, patients with gum disease need to visit a dentist once about every three to four months. The reason for this is that the bacteria that causes gum disease can multiply and spread quickly. If you have signs of bleeding or swollen gums, your best bet is to visit the dentist as soon as possible.

We can help you control your gum problems. At Newingham Dental Center, our office is here to manage and improve your overall oral health. That means looking at the health of your teeth and gums. For patients with gum disease, we offer gentle and comfortable rooting and scaling to remove bacteria and tartar buildup from beneath the gum line. We also use a special rinse that fights off harmful bacteria.

These are just a few points about flossing and gum disease. I urge you to look past the headlines and to listen to your oral health professionals. Flossing should be part of your oral health routine. It’s low-cost and helps keep you free of gum disease or dental decay.

If you have questions about our services or need to schedule a visit with our office, you can call us today at 248-972-8720.