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Dentist’s Advice: Stop Flossing!

Oct 27, 2015 09:39PM
By Dr. Reid Winickfloss dentist smile teeth

Yep, you read that right: I’m a dentist, and I’m suggesting that you throw away your floss.

When I first advise my patients to stop flossing, they usually look at me like I’m crazy—it's been ingrained in their minds that flossing is essential to their health. Unfortunately, most dentists’ advice about flossing is misguided.

As you well know, an inordinate amount of food gets stuck between our teeth after meals. Traditionally, we’ve been taught to remove it with floss. Fair enough, since it does the job.

However, when it comes to removing bacteria from deep under the gums, floss is subpar at best. To compound the issue, simple sugars and carbohydrates nourish the bacteria in our mouths. So when there is an excess of candy, soda or other foods with high fructose corn syrup, bacteria can thrive and multiply under the gum line. Why should we be concerned? Because the build-up of pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the mouth can lead to gum disease, cavities and root canals, and can even be a risk factor for disease throughout the body.

Proper oral (and overall) health requires removing these bacteria from your mouth. Unfortunately, floss does nothing to remove bacteria; it only spreads it around, like butter on toast.

The Dangers of Pathogenic Bacteria

Pathogenic bacteria grow and multiply in the pockets under the gums—the spaces between the gum and tooth that form over the years as plaque causes the gum line to pull away from the teeth. These pockets—warm, nutrient-rich environments without oxygen—become an ideal breeding ground for these anaerobic bacteria.

If bad bacteria spread and enter the bloodstream, they can be transported through the body, causing inflammation that can lead to chronic disease. So failing to take care of your teeth may set you up for a range of serious medical issues, including heart disease, diabetes, preterm birth, Alzheimer’s and even inflammatory cancers like breast and pancreatic cancer.

To properly remove the bacteria and prevent these infections, you must find out if these bacteria are present. If they are, you have an infection, and these germs form a biofilm on your teeth and under your gums. This biofilm cannot be broken up with antimicrobials or even the best home care. You must see a dentist trained to deal with the problem.

Then you must maintain this disinfected environment using an advanced tool such as an oral irrigator, which will flush out the bottom of the pocket.

Why an Oral Irrigator?

An oral irrigator uses pressurized, pulsating water to clean between teeth and below the gum line, flushing out and removing harmful bacteria that cannot be reached by brushing or flossing.

Adding an oral irrigator to your morning or evening routine helps fight gum disease. Daily use also helps control gingivitis, reduce gum bleeding and improve bad breath.

So you can throw away your floss with a healthy smile, knowing there are better alternatives.

Reid WinickDr. Reid Winick’s Dentistry for Health New York is a green, sustainable dental practice whose whole-body program of sustainable dentistry treats the patient as a human ecosystem. Patients from all over the world have sought out Winick’s personalized care for dental treatment options that do not involve painful gum surgery and extractions. His sustainable wellness programs are designed to eliminate the need for periodontal surgery and dental implants and to improve overall wellness. A national lecturer to medical doctors and other health-care providers, Winick says he hopes to revive primary care by educating both patients and doctors about the oral-systemic link.

 Dentistry for Health New York is located at 120 E. 56th St, 12th Floor, NYC 10022 and can be reached at 212-973-9425 or DentistryForHealthNY.com.

Reid winick headshot

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