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.
According to a recent book,
flossing is a monumental waste of time as it is considered useless when done
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