Earlier this month, reports came out that new studies showed that there is no scientific proof that flossing your teeth has any medical benefit. When I read that, I had a very smug reaction to the new findings. My reaction was such not because I think I can just forget flossing forever now, but because I’m now looking forward to my next visit to the dentist.
Before I continue, let’s back it up and let me give you history of my dental hygiene with regards to flossing. I’ve had meticulous dental care my entire life. My father took me to the dentist from the earliest time possible as a child. I’ve had six month check-ups like clockwork all my life. I was told from probably my first visit on that I should floss. I was shown how to floss countless times. As you might imagine, I never flossed as a child. Honestly, how many eight year olds do you know floss every single day? I felt lucky that I even brushed my teeth twice a day.
Once I was an adult, I flirted with regular flossing many, many times. After being admonished after a check-up at the dentist, I’d half-heartedly floss maybe a day, two days, perhaps even a week before giving it up. It just seemed like such a damn hassle when there were so many other things I could be doing. About six or seven years ago though, I started flossing after a visit to the dentist and I kept on doing it. To this day, I’m not sure what happened or what the switch was. Perhaps I found the right floss that made it easier. Technically, I don’t even use floss, I use dental tape as I find it removes more debris. Whatever it was, I’ve been flossing daily for many years now. I admit that on some days, I’m much more thorough than others but I never fail to at least floss all the major spots where most of the food is trapped.
I remember my first visit to the dentist after continuously flossing daily. I was totally expecting the dentist and the hygienist to notice the big difference in plaque build-up. Instead, they asked me if I flossed regularly. I said of course and when they heard that, I could see that were trying to figure out if I was lying or if I was just terrible at flossing. I admit, I was insulted by their reaction. I know how to floss. I’ve seen them floss my teeth countless times.
Initially, I thought this might be just an isolated incident but when I returned for another check-up six months later, I got a different hygienist and she asked me the same thing and gave me the same insulting reaction. Over the years, this has happened over and over again with different dentists and hygienists. They all seem incredulous when they tell them I floss daily. It wouldn’t so bad but they always find a way to tinge they reaction in a condescending manner. Like the one time, a hygienist made hold a mirror and watch while she flossed my teeth. Holy crap lady, you mean the floss goes between your teeth? I’ve been just stuffing it into my mouth and chewing it for thirty seconds and spitting it out. What a revelation!
I probably need to go to the dentist next month and I can’t wait to mention the report above. They can take all their condescending and insulting attitudes and shove it into those tiny spaces in between their teeth where plaque builds up but science says flossing won’t really help remove it.