Are You Honest About Flossing?
A new national survey released this month reveals 27 percent of U.S. adults admit they lie to their dentist about how often they floss their teeth. Out of a little over 2000 people, more than one-third 36 percent would rather do an unpleasant activity like cleaning the toilet (14 percent) over daily flossing. The survey was conducted online in March by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). Clearly, we need to spread the word about water flossing with an oral irrigator! Watch this video and see how easy it can be:
The new survey lists unpleasant activities Americans would choose over flossing: washing a sink full of dirty dishes (18 percent) or waiting in a long check-out line (14 percent). Nearly one in ten U.S. adults would rather sit in gridlock traffic for an hour or do their taxes (9 percent each).
If you were to pick one, flossing is more important than brushing. Just imagine you are washing your hands, but never clean in between the fingers. How would you feel? Your hands would start to smell after a while, just like bad breath can develop if regular flossing is avoided. Lack of flossing can lead to gum disease or periodontal disease, which is a chronic inflammatory disease caused when bacteria in plaque below the gum line lead to swelling, irritation, and possibly receding gums and tooth loss. Periodontal disease has been linked to many chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. Periodontal disease is hardly ever discussed, resulting in a lack of urgency for people to take action in treating it, probably because it doesn’t hurt, even in it’s advanced stages.
According to the survey, among the top 10 U.S. markets, Chicagoans are more likely to opt for an hour of gridlock traffic over daily flossing. However, New Yorkers are more likely than those in other metro areas to include flossing in their personal care routine. When I work in New York, I do find floss on the street more often than in LA!
What about the South? Those who live in Atlanta are more likely than those in other top metro regions to be honest with their dentist about their flossing routine. Atlantans also are more likely than those in other top metro regions to tell friends when they have something stuck in their teeth. On the contrary, those who live in D.C. are more likely than those in other top metro regions not to alert a friend of any potentially embarrassing lunch leftovers.
So how do we treat gum disease today? There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in plaque, and brushing alone does not remove the bacteria that live below the gum line, especially once periodontal disease has set in. Poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of periodontal disease, but several other risk factors play a role in the development and progression of the disease including smoking, age, and genetics. The earlier we treat it, the better the results. In my office, I treat periodontal disease with laser gum surgery, which is much more comfortable than the traditional procedures. I also use ozone to eliminate the bacteria which live inside the bone, tissue and teeth. With an appropriate diagnosis and treatment, the damage from periodontal disease is reversible in many cases.