As I approach almost 20 years as a Dentist, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who don’t floss, feel like they are going to get in trouble if they “confess” to not flossing. Here’s my confession, I don’t floss every day!! There, I’ve said it. To me, it comes down to each individual person and their individual body. Ever one is different… and it takes more than just not flossing to cause tooth decay or gum disease.
Let’s look at decay first. In order for a cavity to form, you need the tooth, the bad bacteria, the “food” source for the bacteria and this needs to come together in a perfect storm to cause a problem. Each of us were colonised by our primary care givers, some with ideal bacteria, others with cariogenic bacteria. Some of us have straight teeth that are easy to clean, others have more of a challenge with overlapping teeth. History is a good predictor of the future, and if you have had many restorations or fillings in the recent past, or currently have a long list, then you probably are someone who won’t get away without flossing as part of your daily dental routine. If you’ve never had a filling, have a stable medical history, you may be ok to not floss every day.
Now, on to the condition of gum disease or Periodontitis. Pathogenic (nasty) bacteria can inflame your gums and certain people with a family history of gum disease or smokers are at high risk of having permanent detrimental bone loss if they don’t floss or clean the bacteria away between their teeth. Regular visits to the Dentist, Hygienist and even working with a Periodontist may be necessary to restore health and halt the permanent loss of bone.
There have been many studies that relate poor periodontal health with chronic conditions such as Heart Disease and poorly controlled Diabetes. This is an important mouth-body connection of which I am confident we will uncover more in the coming research.
My Dental advice is: get to know your own body, work with us to tailor an individual recall time and daily routine to maintain good health. And let’s leave the judgement at the door of the Dental Surgery!!