Thursday, August 4, 2016

Buck the Rules - Why You Should (Still) Floss

I don't usually just dash off posts to my blog - it takes me a while to decide what I want to write about and then even longer to write it. That may not be too hard to believe considering the length of time between my posts. So, while I just posted very recently, I wanted to take a moment to address the recent news about flossing because the story has been everywhere: TV, internet, and radio.

It is true that the federal government has dropped the hygiene recommendation of flossing due to a lack of research, or rather a lack of substantial scientific study. Well, this is one of their rules - and rules are rules, right?

However, if you are one of the two or three out of ten people in the U.S. who actually floss on a daily basis, keep right on flossing. Of course, if that does describe you, I am preaching to the choir because people who floss every day are already in the habit of doing it, know its benefits, and wouldn't consider stopping.

Floss and Brush (ym)
What is problematic is that this information can potentially discourage people who don't floss or floss infrequently from developing a terrific daily habit that has incredible health benefits. This kind of information, served up by the media with the maxim "Government Says Flossing Useless" is akin to what happened to eggs several years back - they're bad - don't eat them, no wait, they're good, no wait, we mean bad, no we mean incredibly edible - eat one a day. How about butter vs. margarine? Margarine is better than butter, nope, sorry, worse - just use olive oil.

Just because the government no longer recommends flossing because the studies don't meet their criteria does not refute what dental professionals and patients who floss know to be the truth - less plaque, stronger gums, gums that don't bleeds, less cavities between the teeth, fresher breath. If there is a lack of scientific evidence to support flossing, that may be the nature of the beast. Designing a study to quantify a practice that is largely technique driven is difficult and dental disease is caused by several factors. But no excuses, we will need to do more and better research to support what we know to be true: flossing helps keep the mouth healthy.

Until that happens, and it must, keep right on flossing and if you don't floss, why not start? Even though rules are rules, rules are meant to be broken, no?

This post is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. Please see your dental or medical provider for treatment. Stay healthy!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lung Cancer and Gum Disease

A new report released in June finds an increased risk of lung cancer in people with gum disease. The report, which analyzed previous studies, found that even after adjusting other lung cancer risk factors like smoking, drinking alcohol, and diabetes, there was still this increased risk.The risk was higher still in women with periodontal disease than in men. 
Health mouth, healthy body (Artwork: YM)

So what is periodontal disease? There are two types: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is early gum disease and is reversible. These are puffy, bleeding gums that can be healed with regular flossing and brushing. The second type of gum disease, periodontitis, means that the disease had gone into other structures of the gums, like the ligaments that help hold the teeth to the bone. In advanced periodontitis, teeth may be loose due to bone loss and the gums may be receding. This type of gum disease can not be reversed but can be managed. Daily brushing and flossing combined with regular dental visits and gum therapy can stop the condition from worsening. There is no pain with most gum disease and some people with gum disease may feel like their teeth have "shifted." Often, they have not been going for their regular check-ups and cleanings every six months. 

Up to one-half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Periodontal disease is 2.5 times more common than diabetes, yet people tend to neglect their teeth without really thinking about how it can affect the rest of the body. 

Given that lung cancer death is the number one cancer death in the U.S., this newly discovered risk is yet another reason to take good care of your teeth. Just think about it: two minutes of brushing two times a day may decrease your risk of dying from lung cancer. Isn't that worth it?

For more on this report visit:

This blog is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition. If you are worried about your health, go visit your doctor or dentist. Please take care of yourself!