Posts for tag: bacteria
Lately, in our practice, we have been singing the praises of using a water pik. While I still recommend flossing, I must admit that I floss less now since getting back to using a water pik regularly. It’s a whole new kind of clean. Through independent and university clinical research, studies show the benefits of using a water pik (sometimes called an oral irrigator or water flosser). Water piks improve gum health and reduce gingivitis by removing plaque and bacteria. They are able to clean between teeth and below the gum line where a toothbrush or floss may not. The pulsating flow of water is gentle on the gums and less likely to cause bleeding in people with sensitive gums that brushing and flossing sometimes do. Water piks are also great for people with limited dexterity. Often when patients hate to floss or find it uncomfortable for sensitive teeth and gums, their oral health is negatively affected. Using a water pik is a reasonable and effective alternative or addition to the regimen. People who suffer from periodontal disease and those undergoing orthodontic treatment find the water pick’s small bursts of water helpful in dislodging food particles and bacteria. I recommend using a water pik to my patients with implants as well. It also massages and increases blood flow to the gums. Water piks are a great tool for reducing discomfort while effectively cleaning the teeth and gums.
There are both home and portable versions available. Home versions use electrical outlets and portables operate on batteries. They can sometimes spray unwanted water around the counter and mirror if you aren’t careful, which is why I like to just take my portable along in the shower. Both home and portable versions offer a pulsating stream of water, but some allow you to adjust the pressure settings, which we recommend especially for sensitive teeth and gums. Our favorite water pik is a portable one that several of us in our practice have been using and really like, The Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser. And, for the record, I do not get any affiliate credit for recommending. You can find it on Amazon and Best Buy. If you have questions about this or any other water pick, please ask Dr. Ellison.
For as long as I can recall I have been flossing, albeit more regularly at some times than at others. I used floss occasionally before going to dental school and more intentionally afterwards. I maintain and stress to my patients that flossing teeth does, in fact, matter. I know some people who only floss when they feel a bit of food stuck in between their teeth. I like to refer to this practice as “flossing for cause”. Certainly some is better than none at all so, even if you are not flossing after brushing at bedtime each night, try for a few times per week.
Recent news reports have indicated that, after decades of recommending daily flossing, the federal government (Depts of Agriculture and Health and Human Services) has changed the dietary guidelines for Americans to no longer include any mention of flossing. This is apparently due to the absence of randomized clinical trials showing its effectiveness.
Here’s the thing. Flossing removes trapped food particles and bacterial film that can form plaque on the tooth surface. Plaque can turn to tartar, which requires professional dental cleaning. While this may sound like an ideal plan for a dental practice, that cleaning can become more difficult (and possibly uncomfortable) with the tartar buildup and can cause gum tissue to become swollen, inflamed and even bleed. This is known as gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. More slow to develop, but much more severe is periodontal disease. It can take anywhere from say five to twenty years to appear, but it’s a slow breakdown of the bone. Even in the absence of significant data (studies would require following a patient’s progress for years), I am not changing my view or my recommendation.
Flossing is imperative for cleaning hard-to-reach spots on teeth, thus reducing the chances of gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing alone cannot effectively clean in those tight spaces. Whether it is waxed or unwaxed, flavored or not, the choice is solely your preference and more importantly, which type you will be more likely to actually use.