The Best Kept Secret in Dentistry: Brushing, flossing or check ups?

When I started dental school, the first thing the senior dental students did was corral the incoming freshmen and have us sit in The Big Chair to start looking for dental decay (cavities) to fill to help fulfill some of their class requirements.  They took a full set of x-rays on my mouth and told me I had to have six (6!) cavities filled or I would certainly have tooth pain in the future.  So, I agreed to have my cavities filled (with old school silver fillings) and I was pronounced cavity free.

The next year, my sophomore year, I was again told to sit in The Big Chair and sure enough they found four more cavities! Not wanting tooth pain, I reluctantly went to the student dental office and proceeded to have four more cavities filled.  I say reluctantly not because I did not want to improve my dental health, but because student dentists are not known to be gentle dentists.  But both of these experiences were necessary to keep me from having tooth pain or worse root canals. 

Two years later, I graduated and met a very kind and gentle dentist who would become my mentor and future partner.  One of the first things we did was have him give me a dental checkup.  He took the necessary x-rays of my teeth and found two new cavities.  I was dental floss resized 600shocked and I couldn’t believe I had so many cavities.  I asked him if this was hereditary, did I have weak teeth, or was I lacking the amount of enamel?  He said no, those were not the problems and asked if I flossed regularly. I told him I probably flossed every few days or so.  He said that it appears I did a great job brushing but that I needed to floss every single day or I would continue to get cavities.  So here I was a 25 year old dentist, about to start practicing what he preaches.

The Secret is flossing daily

So I began flossing daily.  The days added up to years and years to decades, and as of today I have not had a cavity in over 25 years!

In my dental office over the years I have seen hundreds of patients with severe tooth pain, gum disease and dental infections.  Some had to have root canals.  Others became debilitated due to rotted or lost teeth and now have dentures, bridges, multiple crowns and implants.

All of these conditions are painful and unhealthy.  Some of the treatments and procedures themselves can be painful and debilitating, so much so that the patient is required to miss school or work.  When you add up everything, all the pain, the cost of the procedure, the missed work you quickly realize how expensive tooth decay can be.  The crazy thing is it can all be prevented with a few minutes of your time and a strand of floss.  A box of dental floss runs about a $1.25 and lasts around a month.  You can even get flavored floss (I prefer cinnamon).  Or, if you prefer convenience you can get dental floss on a stick called floss picks.  Once you get the hang of it and no longer need the mirror, you can floss while watching TV.  So there are no more excuses not to floss!

It took me four years of dental school and being around dozens of dentists to fully figure out the best kept secret in dentistry.  A secret that can save your teeth, save you tooth pain and discomfort.  A secret that can save you thousands of dollars in your lifetime.  The best kept secret in dentistry is this:

Floss your teethEvery Day!

Take your time and do it well.

Rinse afterwords with a mouth wash for 30 seconds. 

Take it from me, a 25 year floss fanatic, and cavity free dentist, it works! 

To learn how to floss properly, visit our page –Home Care Coaching and go to the link on the bottom of the page for a diagram.