Oral and maxillofacial surgeons routinely provide recommendations about important oral health care habits. Proper oral hygiene is critical for keeping the mouth healthy and reducing the chance of tooth decay, gum disease, infection and related problems.
But what about flossing?
Flossing came under debate last year, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) neglected to include the practice in the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Despite this puzzling development, oral surgeons continue urge patients to floss daily.
Why the Latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines Removed Advice to Floss
Federal dietary guidelines are issued every five years. Their overarching purpose is to provide evidence-based recommendations for healthy eating patterns.
Flossing had been included in previous versions, so why the change?
As it turns out, the authors of the current guidelines decided not to carry forward the flossing recommendation because a review of the evidence was not completed, not because it isn’t beneficial.
In fact, after the dental community spoke out about the omission, HHS came out in support of flossing. According to their statement, the agency considers flossing an important oral health care habit, and the authors did not intend to imply otherwise.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Have Always Advocated Flossing
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons understand that good oral health care minimizes the risk of serious problems involving the teeth and oral cavity. Flossing is an integral part of that effort.
Brushing only cleans the front and back surfaces of the teeth. While this helps get rid of some plaque buildup, destructive bacteria tend to hide out in spots that are hard (or impossible) to reach with a toothbrush. Failing to clean these areas increases the risk of cavities, gum disease and tooth loss.
Because of this, we recommend that patients clean between their teeth once per day. Flossing — along with twice-daily tooth brushing and regular professional examinations and cleanings — is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Government Agencies Also Recommend Flossing
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons aren’t alone in touting the benefits of flossing.
The HHS, as we mentioned above, believes flossing is critically important. So do the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
For patients who have trouble using regular dental floss, oral surgeons suggest other types of interdental cleaners.
Pre-threaded flossers are easy to use and they work to remove plaque between the teeth. Soft pick-style gum brushes remove plaque and debris between teeth while also massaging the gums. Water flossers are another option, and are particularly well-suited for people with bridges, dental implants or braces. Finally, most manual, electric and sonic toothbrush manufacturers offer a brush type specifically designed for interdental cleaning.
The experienced oral surgeons at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah can offer more tips and information on improving and maintaining your dental health. Contact one of our convenient Salt Lake City area offices today to schedule a consultation with our oral and maxillofacial surgeons.