Dr. Krochak's Take on the Matter
In response to the Associated Press reporting that there isn’t proper scientific evidence that flossing is beneficial, I’d like to respond to my patients and friends. After 34 years of dental practice, I can unequivocally attest to the benefits of daily flossing. Periodontal disease is a slow chronic disease and the type of definitive study would take decades and thousands of patients and more funding than the government is willing to spend to prove the efficacy of flossing. Shorter term studies and overwhelming clinical evidence from dentists everywhere have demonstrated the benefits of flossing. And there are more benefits than just preventing periodontal disease so read on!
Flossing Removes Bad Bacteria
Your mouth, as well as your entire GI system, has a biofilm on it. Most people call the biofilm in the mouth, “plaque”. This film has bacterial colonies that belong there as well as pathological bacteria that cause disease. Most people know this model from yogurt and probiotic ads for the stomach. These colonies exist all over your teeth and under your gum line. If these colonies are not mechanically disrupted from growing by flossing in between your teeth, you will be susceptible to decay between your teeth. If the bacteria isn’t removed from below the gum line, you will be susceptible to periodontal disease which eats away your gums and bone around your teeth.
Five minutes after a professional dental cleaning, these colonies begin to reform under your gums. The longer they stay, the more destructive they become. If not properly removed, they disrupt the gum attachment and cause the gum to pull away from your teeth and gum “pockets” to form.
If the pockets form, you no longer have access to clean these areas because you can’t floss effectively more than 4 mm under the gums. The pathological bacteria create inflammation that ultimately can spread through your gums into the bone and cause permanent bone loss around your teeth, not to mention bad breath!
Flossing is Important for Your Overall Health
In addition, your body releases inflammatory hormones in response to this plaque. These inflammatory factors circulate throughout your blood system and become additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, GI disorders, cancers, arthritis, low birth weight babies for pregnant woman and probably other yet to be discovered correlations. So removing plaque from your teeth is important not just for your dental health but for your overall medical health.
Keep Flossing, Everyone
I’d like to tell this reporter to not floss for a week and then floss between his back teeth and look at what he pulls out on the floss. If he thinks he’d rather have that gunk under his gums versus removing it, then more power to him. I hope he becomes my patient because I love placing implants in areas that people lose their teeth!
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael Krochak