Recently Reported Dilemma in the Journal of the New York Times
Levi Spear Parmly, a dentist from New Orleans, is introduced the first form of dental floss. In 1819, he recommended running a waxen silk thread “through the interstices of the teeth, between their necks and the arches of the gum, to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove and
which is the real source of disease.”
“According to a recent study published in the journal Science of Nature, a team of researchers were able to determine what some of our ancient ancestors ate, how they prepared their food, and even how they cared for their teeth by examining the calcified plaque found on human teeth” from Spain that were1.2 million years old.”
“Researchers found pieces of non-edible wood stuck in grooves on the teeth, “suggesting oral hygiene activities,” the study says. These grooves are typical in species that pick their teeth using pieces of wood, the study notes. In other words, the researchers may have uncovered some of the earliest evidence of man’s toothpick use”
When my father practiced dentistry in the 1950’s to the 70’s, the dental health of the US started to make a major swing toward improved oral health through increased use of preventive services, delivery of fluoride in the water, in addition to improvements in restorative materials and dental devices. In the 1960’s, often as many as 70 % of the population was in dentures by the age of 60. Now, it is less than 20%. We have now delivered the baby-boomer generation into their 50’s and 60’s with most of their teeth!
The New York Times article basically stated that floss was not necessary because there were no double blind studies to prove the case that it was effective. The remarkable part of this ‘false news’ was that it failed to recognize the contribution of almost 200 years of experience and judgement that had clearly indicated that floss is a significant tool in preventing dental disease.
As stated by a colleague; ‘parachutes have a similar complication- no double blind study has proven the effectiveness of a parachutes as being more effective than using nothing to jump out of a plane and land safely’.
As we age, we often develop spaces in our gums and teeth that require the use of different devices to clean our teeth. If you have firm pink gums filling the space in between your teeth, you need floss to slip between the tooth and gum to regularly clean plaque from those surfaces. We even recommend the use of floss in implants to facilitate gum fill. You still want to use a brush, but you should still use floss daily. If you have visited us you know what we recommend, and if not then maybe it is about time.