Dental care is very important to everyone because certain diseases are linked to the health of the gums and teeth. Typically, people need to brush their teeth at least two times a day. The use of mouthwash is optional and should be done during times when people do not have to brush their teeth, such as after lunch or late afternoon. Flossing teeth is another option to remove debris, but does it really work? Dental experts at the University of Southern California pointed out truths about it.
Dental Flossing: Should Everyone Do It?
According to the American Dental Associations, cleaning between teeth once per day is one of the recommendations for good oral hygiene. Cleaning between teeth means mechanical interdental cleaning using certain devices, such as small brushes, oral irrigators, and wooden sticks. Dental floss products, however, are not included among these devices. This is because dental flossing has been found with limited evidence in improving oral hygiene in a 2011 systemic review by ADA.
“When there’s not enough evidence, one needs to ask: Is it because there weren’t enough studies?” said Professor Mahvash Navazesh at Ostrow School, who is an expert on clinical research.
Experts at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at USC pointed that dental floss products may still be helpful. They said that the study by ADA did not provide clarity on some important factors about flossing, such as the effectiveness of the method in cleaning teeth, the flossing method used by people, and the best technique that should be used by people.
According to Prof. Navazesh, dental flossing is a personal activity that follows perspective, rather than a general approach:
1. Crowded teeth: Limited space between teeth or crowded teeth can occur normally in childhood. But certain conditions, such as disharmony between teeth size and size of the jaw, can promote its development negatively. The discrepancy between the jaw and the teeth usually happens when the two do not develop at the same time.
2. Diastema: The term means a gap or space between two teeth that commonly seen in the front teeth. Many species of mammals have this as a normal feature in their incisors or molars but this can occur anywhere in the mouth. As with crowded teeth, the main cause is the discrepancy between the jaw and the teeth.
These teeth formations play a major role in determining the effectiveness of dental flossing. Prof. Navazesh said that people with crowded teeth should floss to remove debris stuck between teeth in order to prevent tooth decay. Meanwhile, those who have gaps between teeth can simply use a toothbrush to remove debris.
Tooth Decay: Debris, and Bacteria
The main reason why dentists always recommend brushing the teeth regularly is to remove debris and reduce bacterial growth. When people eat and drink, very small food components get stuck in between teeth. Bacteria that naturally live in the oral cavity metabolize these components, especially sugary ones. As part of their metabolic process, acids are produced and these accumulate in the oral cavity. These said acids can destroy the teeth's outermost surface called the enamel.
Some people have proteins that protect their teeth by preventing sugars from sticking to the enamel. There are others who do not have these proteins and they are more susceptible to tooth decay, even if they avoid sugary foods. Dental flossing may be able to help out in removing debris missed by toothbrushing and reducing the chance of tooth decay, which can be very helpful in people with crowded teeth. Below are some useful tips for flossing:
- When flossing, insert the thread in between teeth and slide it on the tooth surface.
- Firmly hold the strand and move it gently up and down against the tooth.
- Do not just clean one side. Clean the adjacent tooth as well until you finish the rest.
- Preferably, use fresh sections of the dental floss as you clean individual tooth.
- Floss your teeth only once a day using a dental floss product with a thickness that fits the formation of your teeth.
Dental Care: Benefits of Visiting a Dentist
Dentists recommend dental checkups of at least two times per year to ensure good oral health. That recommendation goes beyond just gums and teeth, and the smell of your breath. A simple dental checkup is equivalent to a health screening because dentists take consideration of specific factors such as current health, diet and nutrition, and natural tendency toward tooth decay.
They are also trained to detect certain conditions, such as oral cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, diabetes, and skin cancer. These medical conditions can present symptoms in the oral cavity before these can be diagnosed by other diagnostic tests.
Experts at Ostrow School advise that people who have medical problems should visit a dentist more frequently. This is due to their vulnerability to dental cavities or poor nutrition, depending on the underlying condition.
[메디컬리포트=Ralph Chen 기자]