A visit to the dentist is something that none of us looks forward to as it usually involves scraping, injecting or drilling and, if we are strangers to oral hygiene, we may also have to endure a lecture from the dentist.
Dentists have always recommended that we floss our teeth to make them sparkle and decay-free and to keep our gums healthy. Some insist that regular flossing could even reduce the risk of heart disease. Yet, we dislike flossing as many of us are clumsy with the tape or experience bleeding in the gums.
AdvertisementAccording to a recent book, flossing is a monumental waste of time as it is considered useless when done incorrectly.
A book called 'Kiss your Doctor Goodbye' written by U.S-based Dr Ellie Phillips, who was among the first women dentists to train at Guy's Hospital in London, is making waves. In it, she says that flossing with any gizmo of one's choice will not help to prevent tooth decay.
The doctor believes that science is on her side. A 2006 study published in the British Dental Journal did not find any difference in the decay detected among those who flossed and those who did not! Only one study carried out on a bunch of school children who were flossed five times a week for two years by a hygienist benefitted from flossing.
In reality, there is no evidence that supports the theory that flossing can effectively prevent tooth decay in the long run. Other experts believe that Dr. Phillips may be partially right as flossing cannot stop tooth decay but on the other hand, is capable of preventing gum disease, or so they insist.
Tooth decays occur when acids are produced during the digestion of sugars by oral bacteria. On the other hand, gum disease is brought on by plaque accumulation. Plaque is a film of bacteria formed when food particles are not properly removed from between the teeth, thereby irritating the gums and causing them to bleed and recede. If the plaque is not removed, it would harden into tartar and could affect the underlying bones and thereby weaken the teeth.
Some dentists believe that flossing is effective in controlling both tooth decay and gum disease and that people must not be advised to stop flossing. Instead, they must be shown how to floss properly in order to obtain the maximum effect.
Dr Phillips believes that using mouthwash is a far better choice in preventing tooth decay. While dentists recommend flossing using inter dental brushes, Phillip recommends the use of three different mouthwashes one before brushing, and two afterwards.
People often clean their teeth immediately after eating, yet this can lead to the teeth wearing away, she says, because food softens teeth. Using Ultradex mouthwash before brushing prevents this from happening. Dr. Phillips advises the use of Listerine after brushing followed by Fluorigard to strengthen teeth.
She also advocates the use of lozenges or chewing gum with xylitol, a natural sweetener, to minimize tooth decay by preventing bacterial growth.