Flossing: More Than Just a Guilt Trip

AriannaM

Arianna Ritchey, RDH

Flossing: More Than Just a Guilt Trip

As a part of a regular preventive or periodontal maintenance visit with your dental hygienist, the topic of flossing usually comes up.  Most people have at least heard of flossing, and while some people floss regularly, most patients I see report flossing less than the ADA recommended once per day.  More often, people fall into the categories of flossing “once in a while” or “once in a blue moon.”  While some people are embarrassed to admit this to their dental hygienist, the condition and health of your gums reveal a lot about your oral hygiene practices at home without you saying a word.  (We can also read minds…just kidding.)

So, if most people have heard about flossing, and are reminded of it semi-annually by their dental hygienist, what is preventing them from actually cleaning between their teeth on a regular basis?

Maybe they don’t realize the impact that flossing has on the health of their gums and prevention of early tooth loss.  Maybe it’s difficult for them to manipulate string floss (it’s harder than it looks).  Maybe they are super busy (who isn’t?) and can’t find time to track down some floss and use it between their teeth.  Maybe they ran out of the sample-size floss their hygienist gave them a their last visit.  Maybe it hurts when they floss because their gums are inflamed, so they avoid the pain.  Maybe they are really committed and diligent for the first while, and then life gets in the way and they fall out of the habit.  All of these are totally understandable reasons, and I’ve been there.  (Hygienists are human, too!)

The good news is, your dental hygienist is interested in helping you to keep your mouth and gums healthy, and offers a judgment-free-zone to learn how to properly perform oral hygiene techniques, like flossing, and to help you come up with some ways to integrate flossing into your daily routine.  (Floss in the shower, floss while watching the intro to your show on Netflix, floss while on Facebook or scrolling through Pinterest, floss while at a red light on your commute, etc.)

The other awesome thing your dental hygienist does for you, is giving you a clean slate to work with!  When your dental hygienist cleans your teeth by removing the plaque and calculus (calcified plaque) from your teeth, they are removing the bacteria that are causing the inflammation, pain, and bleeding in your gums.  (Hooray!)  Once these irritations are removed, the gums have a chance to heal, and by properly cleaning your teeth at home (brushing and flossing), you can keep them healthy.  When the gums are healthy, they don’t hurt, they don’t bleed, they are easier to floss, and you have a faster, easier dental hygiene appointments. (Even when your hygienist is gentle, nobody enjoys being in that chair.)

If you’re still reading, check out this video my former classmates and I produced that demonstrates proper flossing technique and briefly explains why flossing is important.  It’s a little cheesy, but definitely educational.  Make sure your sound is on, there’s some great instruction and music.  

After watching this video and practicing at home, if you’re still having difficulty with string floss, try some other interdental cleaners!  Here’s a great article that talks about lots of interdental cleaners and how to use them (scroll about halfway down).  

Remember, the best interdental cleaning tool is the one that you actually use consistently; if string floss just isn’t your thing, talk to your hygienist at your next visit, and we’ll be happy to give you some samples to try.  Happy flossing!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

https://dentistrydonedifferently.com/2015/03/22/what-is-a-periodontal-maintenance/

http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/product-category-information/floss-and-other-interdental-cleaners

https://dentistrydonedifferently.com/2013/10/14/tooth-brushes/

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https://dentistrydonedifferently.com/2014/05/19/flossing-do-i-have-to/

Keeping Your Teeth For a Lifetime

KarenK

Karen Kelley RDH

Keeping Your Teeth For a Lifetime

Our dental practice has more over 50 year olds than under 50.  As aging adults, we need to be aware of certain things that can keep us from retaining our teeth our entire lives.

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Judith Ann Jones, DDS, a spokesman on elder care for the American Dental Association and director of The Center for Clinical Research at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine spoke about 5 things that are especially important to the over 50 crowd.

Tooth Decay:  Contrary to what many people believe, adults keep getting cavities!  I’m always surprised when people are stunned to learn they have a cavity as an adult.  Areas of the teeth that have never had a cavity can decay, but  areas  where we see more problems are where an old filling is leaking and at the base of an older crown.  The best prevention is brushing well each day along the gumline.  An electric toothbrush is very helpful in accomplishing this as well as the use of fluoride.  An over the counter fluoride rinse nightly is great and in our office we have special prescription strength fluoride that is wonderful for cavity prevention as well as help with sensitivity.
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Dry Mouth:  Keeping Your Teeth For a Lifetime We see so many people with this problem.  “Saliva protects our teeth.  The calcium and phosphate present in saliva prevent demineralization of your teeth”, Jones says.  Many drugs cause dry mouth as well as some diseases and as we get older, we are on more medications thus we see this commonly in older adults.  This is a difficult one to deal with for those affected.  The best thing is to drink lots of water, use saliva substitute and try xylitol products.  Also, if you smoke, stop, it just makes your mouth drier.

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Gum Disease:  If your gums are swollen, red, or bleed easily, you have gum disease.  If left untreated, gum disease (gingivitis) will become more serious and will cause deterioration of the bone that holds the teeth, we call this periodontitis.   If this condition continues without treatment, it can cause the loss of the teeth.  The best way to prevent gum disease is to clean your teeth well each day with brushing, flossing, and use of interdental cleaners like soft picks or go betweens. And of course, seeing your friendly dental hygienist as often as recommended.  We can remove the mineralized bacteria from your teeth that you can’t remove with brushing.

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Tooth Crowding:  “As you age, your teeth shift”, according to Lee W. Graber, D.D.S., M.S, Ph.D., Past President of the American Association of Orthodontists. And “that can be problematic, not because you’ll look different, but because it can make your teeth more difficult to clean, leading to more decay.  It’s also of concern because misaligned teeth can lead to teeth erosion and damage to the supporting tissue and bone”, Graber says.   “Add to that the tendency of older adults to have periodontal disease, and you could end up losing your teeth even faster.”   If your teeth have really shifted, and you find you are having a difficult time keeping your teeth clean and food keeps getting caught in certain areas, ask our doctors about orthodontics.  We offer Invisalign to our patients and we’ve had patients in their later years choose to straighten their teeth.  I just finished with my invisalign treatment.  I had braces when I was a teenager but my teeth had shifted and I was experiencing these problems I just mentioned.  I decided to do Invisalign.  It’s easy to do and my teeth are so much straighter.   They are now in the correct alignment and my teeth and gums will be healthier.   If you choose not to do orthodontics, more frequently exams and cleanings may be necessary.

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Oral Cancer:  According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancers this year, and more than 8,000 will die from it.  “Oral cancer incidence definitely increases as you get older”, Jones says, and “is very often linked to smoking and heavy alcohol use.”   Jones also said, “Only about half of people who develop oral cancer survive the disease.”   If discovered early, there is an 80 percent chance of surviving for five years.  When we do your periodic exams when you come in for your cleaning, you will be checked for oral cancer.  We also offer Velscope, Identafi, or Oral ID technologies to help in finding oral cancer earlier.

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Keep brushing, flossing and smiling!  We want to help you keep your teeth healthy your entire lives!

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Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/28/common-dental-problems-_n_5844434.html

https://aga.grandparents.com/