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Parachutes and Dental Floss

Recently there was a story on the effectiveness of daily flossing that started with the NY Times, and was picked up by multiple news outlets. The headlines read like this:

A big problem with flossing – CBS News

New study calls flossing your teeth a waste of time –

Turns out, flossing may be overrated – Press Reader

Flossing your teeth can be a waste of time – Daily Mail


According to the NY Times story, “The latest dietary guidelines for Americans, issued by the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, quietly dropped any mention of flossing without notice. This week, The Associated Press reported that officials had never researched the effectiveness of daily flossing, as required, before cajoling Americans to do it.”

And there’s a lot more to the story as far as word count, but not much more as far as evidence goes.

And now, as an advocate of daily brushing and flossing, please humor me while I put this into perspective.

There also has not been significant studies on the effectiveness of:

Skydiving without a parachute

Swimming with bricks tied to your ankles

Insulting Chuck Norris

Tugging on Superman’s cape

Eating an entire pepperoni pizza every day for a year

Flying on the outside, instead of the inside, of an airplane

Grocery shopping on a Monday in February without coupons

Get the picture?

As a certified, highly educated, and bald-headed Pediatric Dentist, here’s my opinion. Tooth decay is caused by food particles that get stuck in your teeth and sit there for too long. The food breaks down, the acid levels rise, and your teeth and gums can get attacked by the bacteria created by the food breaking down. So anything that we can do to remove those food particles is good. And that’s why we recommend brushing and flossing twice a day. And it also helps you to have much more palatable breath, so brushing and flossing twice a day will keep your marriage stronger, will make you a more likable person and will ensure a job promotion. Okay maybe that last one’s a stretch but we all know that a great smile looks great and a great smile can affect us in so many positive ways.

Hey have you ever seen those old timey advertisements from way back when.

Pulling teeth

The dentist is always the guy pulling a tooth. And remember Austin Powers smile? I know it’s just a silly movie but it pokes fun at the very real attitude we first world countries used to have regarding dental hygiene.

I get it. I’ve got bad teeth!

And this is President Woodrow Wilson on his inauguration day. I guess he didn’t have a Pediatric Dentist around to tell him brushing and flossing was over rated.

Woodrow Wilson
Uh…Mr. President. This new study says flossing is over rated.

I’ve got dentist friends that do mission work and travel to third world countries. And most of what they do is pull teeth! Yup. In poor countries, dental hygiene is unheard of. No brushing, no flossing. So teeth become a liability and need to be pulled. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

So take it from a guy that’s looked at hundreds of thousands of teeth, up close and personal. Please keep brushing and flossing twice a day. And my rule of thumb is “You only need to floss the ones you want to keep.”

And if you or someone you know is looking for a great Pediatric Dentist, one that knows the value of skydiving WITH a parachute, please send them our way. We’re always happy to provide a free consultation (unless you write stories on dentistry for the NY Times). Just stop in and say hi and we’ll do the rest. We may even offer you complimentary floss.

Olympic Smiles
I’ll bet none of these Olympians were never told that brushing and flossing was over-rated.



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