(Submitted by my hygienist, Pam)
Recently a patient reminded me of a saying I hadn’t heard in a while. “You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.” Hopefully we all want to keep all our teeth for the rest of our lives. And research has shown that flossing can prolong life, up to 10 extra years!
In 1815, Levi Spear Parmly began advising his patients to use a thin silk tread to clean between their teeth. Dental floss was born! The idea caught on and by 1898 Johnson & Johnson took out a patent for dental floss that was made from the same silk material used by doctors for silk stitches.
During WWII, Dr. Charles C. Bass developed nylon floss to replaced silk. This allowed for the development of waxed dental floss and dental tape by the 1950’s. Today we have a variety of types of dental floss types including new materials such as Gore-Tex.
Studies have found most Americans brush their teeth to some degree, but as few as 10% reports flossing daily. Flossing is a key part of a healthy routine for maintaining your oral health as well as overall health. If not removed, within 24 hours bacteria can begin to cause the gums to become inflamed. Gingival inflammation or gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Bristles of your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth. Dental floss reaches the area between the teeth as well as below the gums to help eliminate bacteria resulting in healthier gum tissue.
Patients are always asking me what the best type of dental floss to use is. And I tell them that it is whatever works best for them! If flossing is difficult you won’t do it. There are many different kinds of dental floss commonly available. You have your basic flosses, expensive, inexpensive, thick, thin, waxed, non-waxed, flat, woven, etc. along with floss holders, floss picks, and various different adjuncts.
Unwaxed dental floss fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together, but can be prone to shredding or breaking. Waxed dental floss is less likely to break, but the wax coating may make it harder to use in tight spots. Dental tape is a broader and flatter type of dental floss. People with more space between their teeth often find dental tape more comfortable to use than standard dental floss. Gore-Tex type dental flosses like Crest’s Glide floss slide between the teeth easily and is less likely to shred. Some of the yarn-type material is good to use around implants and dental bridges. Experiment with different sizes, kinds, and brands. But the important thing is that you floss every day!