Happy Birthday & Hold The Leeches

Take a Pass on the Parasites

Back in 1896 when Johnson & Johnson first started selling dental floss, leeches were used to treat gum disease.Given this alternative, flossing to prevent gum disease would seem like a no brainer.However, getting people to use floss on a regular basis is, pardon the pun, "like pulling teeth".

The excuses are too numerous to count.Some of the classics are "it's messy", "you just splash up the bathroom mirror", "it cuts off the circulation to my fingers", "it's way too time consuming", "it always gets stuck" and "I brush really well so I don't need to".

Although brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of the teeth, only flossing removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line where a toothbrush can't reach.

When it is not removed regularly, plaque will mix with the sugars and starches you eat and cause cavities.  Accumulation of plaque also causes inflammation of the gums and you're on the pathway of periodontal disease.

Never be embarrassed to ask for flossing information and instructions.  Your dental team is thrilled to help you with this invaluable health tool.  Flossing should be done every twenty-four hours to break the plaque/acid/decay/periodontal disease cycle.

There are many varieties of floss.No one kind is better than the next.Ultra-thin and waxed floss are good for crowded or tight teeth.Unwaxed floss will squeak if you are flossing effectively.  Wider floss, called dental tape, is helpful for people with big gaps in their teeth or for people who have trouble holding fine floss.  Superfloss is used for wide gaps between teeth and for under bridges.Floss holders are available if you have a problem with manual dexterity.

Give your children the gift of the "habit of flossing".  Teach them from their childhood and it will become as natural to them as brushing is to you.  Let them see you do it and do it for them as soon as their teeth begin to appear.  They will need you to be their "flossing buddy" until they are approximately ten years old and have the manual dexterity to do it by themselves effectively.  By allowing them to practice and develop the habit you'll be helping assure a lifetime of great dental health.  Keep in mind dental health promotes overall physical health.  Conversely, periodontal disease can lead to a variety of physical complications including increased risk of coronary artery disease and low birth weight babies.

Dr. Stephen Petras

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