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    Original Content

    Flossing Was Quietly Removed from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans - The Reason Might Surprise You

    How many times has your dentist stressed the importance of daily flossing?

    Dentists have advocated flossing for decades, along with daily brushing and annual cleanings. Flossing appeared in the surgeon general’s report in 1979. Then, in 1990, it was added to the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, where it’s remained for 35 years.

    Interestingly, in the 2015-2020 edition, flossing isn’t mentioned – anywhere.

    What does this mean? Should you discontinue daily flossing? What does research show about the importance of flossing?

    Read on to learn why flossing was removed from the Dietary Guidelines and what it means for your oral care routine.

    What the Experts Say

    By law, any recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines must be backed up by scientific evidence.

    For example, the guidelines suggest reducing sugar in your diet to improve your oral health. There are countless research studies that support the fact that sugar is harmful to your teeth.

    With that in mind, what have researchers discovered about flossing? Let’s consider some recent studies.

    2011 Cochrane Review

    This collection of 12 studies compared the benefits of brushing and flossing to brushing alone. Those who brushed and flossed daily were less likely to develop gingivitis than brushers only. This is a noteworthy point, since gingivitis can lead to more serious conditions like periodontitis.

    However, researchers found little evidence that daily flossing has any impact on removing plaque. This too is significant, since dental experts often cite plaque reduction as a benefit of flossing.

    The authors also added that the studies and the results were unreliable.

    2015 Journal of Clinical Periodontology

    This report stated that current studies do not show adequate proof that floss removes plaque or reduces gum inflammation (gingivitis).

    2016 American Academy of Periodontology

    In this statement, the Academy admitted that existing research does not measure the true markers of oral health.

    They found that current studies did not use enough test subjects to form any conclusive results. The studies were also conducted for too short a period of time, since gum diseases like periodontitis take years to develop.

    The statement also notes “an absence of quality research” on the subject of daily flossing.

    To Floss or Not to Floss

    So, what do all these studies show? Have we been lied to for all these years? Does flossing truly have no effect on our oral health?

    Before you toss that roll of dental floss, consider another research study published in the Journal of Dental Research.

    A group of school-age children had their teeth flossed by professionals Monday through Friday for just under two years. This reduced their risk of developing cavities by an impressive 40 percent.

    Interestingly, the same study found that kids who flossed their own teeth did not experience the same level of cavity protection.

    What does this mean? Is flossing irrelevant to our oral health? Or could it be that many of us simply don’t know the correct way to floss our teeth?

    Most people insert the floss and saw it back and forth against their gums. According to the ADA, the proper way to floss is to slide the floss up and down each side of each tooth.

    The video below demonstrates the correct way to floss your teeth.

    The Bottom Line on Daily Flossing

    What can we conclude from all this?

    Just because there’s insufficient research doesn’t mean that flossing has no benefits. One study did suggest that regular flossing can reduce your risk of gingivitis, which is a huge motivation to continue the habit.

    Why else should you stick with your routine of daily flossing?

    If nothing else, flossing is an effective way to remove tiny food particles that your toothbrush misses. Flossing makes your mouth feel cleaner and leaves your breath smelling fresher.

    So don’t take the Dietary Guidelines’ omission to mean that daily flossing is no longer important. There are still many sound reasons to include flossing as part of your oral care routine.

    Dr. Jim Ellis talks to us about Bruxism. Its a grind!

    - Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club. Today, we're discussing something called bruxism. It's something that you hear a lot of buzz about on the Internet or maybe at your dentist's office or talking to people I have bruxism. Sounds really bad. Not that that. Bruxism simply is clenching or grinding your teeth. Clenching your teeth means just put the teeth together and just hold them or putting the teeth together and then grinding them.

    The same word can mean both things. So what's the big deal with that? Well, any time you grind two things together, things will wear down. Grind two rocks together, grind, you know, two of everything, anything, you can grind them together, and they will wear down. You're naturally gonna grind your teeth down over time as you chew on food, but there's no need to speed up the process, as in grinding your teeth together. You grind your teeth together, and the teeth are gonna wear down faster, and one of the bigger problems is that you intercuspate, meaning putting the cusps into the grooves of the opposing teeth, and then you push. When the teeth are engaged, you might be actually fracturing some of your teeth, breaking the cusps off.

    So how can you stop bruxism? How can you stop grinding? Well, two times that this happens. One is when you're awake. One is when you're asleep. That pretty much covers every time. When you're awake, it's a little easier to stop grinding your teeth. What we do is we do some kind of mental retraining. We have people set an alarm watch or a watch on the phone or whatever for about every 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes every day, we do this for about a week. Every time that alarm goes off, you stop your clenching.

    A lot of people sit at their desks or if they drive or whatever they do for a living, they're clenching their teeth, and every 10 minutes, if you relax that jaw, kind of massage it, unclench, every 10 minutes, you're unclenching and unbruxing, not really a word, but you get what I'm saying. Then, that helps retrain them over time to stop doing it. What you find is you start doing the grinding and the clenching in really tense situations if you are really tense in your job or just a really stressed kind of person at whatever job you do, you tend to clench. So we can do that kind of retraining and re-patterning if you are awake. The bigger problem is if you're asleep what do you do? How can you stop something that you really don't know you're doing, and you don't want to wake up every 10 minutes obviously, so how do you retrain that?

    The problem is you really can't do that because it's something you're doing subconsciously. What we do for bruxism for people when they're asleep is we simply have a mouth guard, and what that does is it just puts something in between the two teeth, and so you're still grinding, but you're grinding on the night guard, and typically, we make the night guards flat so you can't get that traction. You're just slipping on the night guard, and so you're still grinding, but your grinding the night guard. You're wearing down of the night guard instead of wearing down your teeth. Night guards are much easier to replace than your natural teeth, much cheaper, much less pain and trauma, you know, than putting on new crowns and all that other stuff. So during the day, bruxism, you want to retrain yourself, find out when you're doing it and stop doing it. At night, really all you can do is get a night guard, and the night guards don't have to be expensive. They can be-- There's some things that you really ought to do with a night guard, so you ought to at least take the night guard that you by your dentist and see if he can adjust it for you. Dentist-made night guards are better, higher quality night guards. The night guards you by at the store, they can work. There are some things you want to ask your dentist about, but they can work, too. So bruxism is clenching and grinding. Both are bad. Both will cause damage over time, but there are certain things you can do to stop both of them. So Dr. Ellis for Oral Care Club. Have a good one.

    4 Things Teeth Grinding Might Say About You

    Do you often wake up with a dull headache? Does your jaw ever feel sore? Does your partner complain about strange sounds you make during sleep?

    If you said yes to any of the above, you may be grinding your teeth at night.

    Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a common occurrence in both children and adults. For some, it’s a minor annoyance that comes and goes. For others, it may become an ongoing, chronic condition.

    Over time, teeth grinding may result in:

    •         Sore jaw or facial muscles
    •         Headaches and earaches
    •         Enamel erosion
    •         Tooth damage
    •         Hearing loss
    •         Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)

    What causes teeth grinding? Are certain types of people more likely to grind their teeth at night?

    Read on to learn four surprising things teeth grinding might reveal about you.


    1. You’re a High-Stress “A” Type Personality

    Type A personalities are characterized by drive, ambition, and impatience. They’re aggressive, competitive, and have an unreasonable sense of urgency.

    Because A types are so hard on themselves (and everyone around them), they’re prone to stress and anxiety. Researchers link Type A personalities to many stress-related ailments, including heart disease and high blood pressure.

    Not surprisingly, they’ve also found a connection between high-stress personalities and teeth grinding. Studies suggest that people who are anxious and tense are more likely to grind their teeth at night.


    2. You’re Not Getting Enough Air While You Sleep

    Teeth grinding may also suggest that you’re having difficulty breathing when you sleep.

    Throughout the night, your body cycles through light and deep stages of sleep. When your brain approaches the deepest sleep cycle, your entire body must “let go” and relax.

    For some of us, this is a problem. Your tongue expands to nearly twice the normal size when it’s relaxed, which can obstruct your airway. Because your jaw is heavy, it can also reduce normal airflow.

    Interestingly, researchers have found that people with partially blocked airways during sleep often grind their teeth. This causes tension in the tongue and jaw and allows them to breathe normally again.


    3. You’re Emotionally Unstable

    Even if you’re not a Type A personality, you may still be prone to occasional teeth grinding.

    Researchers have noted that grinding seems to be more severe during prolonged periods of stress and anxiety. Anger, frustration, and intense concentration may also lead to teeth grinding.

    In the medical community, teeth grinding has long been listed as a physical symptom of anxiety and stress. Those who seek treatment for teeth grinding often report feelings of tension, anxiety, or depression.

    Because of this, research suggests a link between teeth grinding and negative emotions. Compared to people who don’t grind, those who do are more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression or other anxiety disorders.


    4. You Have Crooked Teeth or an Abnormal Bite

    Another common reason people grind their teeth is because of a physical defect. This could include missing or crooked teeth or a misaligned bite.

    Children commonly grind their teeth when their baby teeth appear and again when their adult teeth emerge. It often stops once the adult teeth are fully in place.

    If the adult teeth are misaligned, this could cause a slight shift in your bite and the way you chew. This places unnatural stress on the jaw muscles, which may pull your jaw out of alignment.

    Grinding your teeth at night is your body’s way of trying to “fix” the problem. Unfortunately, it only makes it worse, since grinding can cause damage to your teeth and jaw.

    What if You’re a Grinder?

    While there’s no cure for teeth grinding, there are treatments available to help you manage it. These may include stress management, corrective dentistry, or wearing a plastic mouth guard while you sleep.

    If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth at night, you should make an appointment with your dentist and express your concerns. He or she will examine your teeth and jaw for signs of grinding and prescribe the right solution for you.

    Rubbing Whiskey on Teething Baby's Gums - Was Grandma Crazy?

    There is an old wives tale about rubbing whiskey on the gums of teething babies to help soothe the discomfort. Depending on when you were born, your grandmother may have even done this to you when your mother wasn't looking. The idea is that the whiskey will help to numb the gums of the child and make them stop crying. A sea of anecdotal evidence insists that this method works.

    Numbing - A Common Misconception

    There are a few reasons why people may be reporting these effects but first, we need to look at a common misconception. There is a widespread belief that alcohol is a topical numbing agent. Topically applied alcohol can create a number of different sensations. It can make your skin feel cold because it evaporates so quickly. It can hurt like the dickens when poured on a wound because it lowers the sensitivity of your V1 receptors, prompting them to tell the brain that you're burning when in reality you're just fine, and because alcohol is a vasodilator, it can make the inside of your tummy feel physically warm. But what alcohol does NOT do, is numb the skin. This is likely a misconception born from observing that skin is rubbed with alcohol for sanitization purposes before administering a shot, a piercing, or anything else that would open the skin to possible infection.      

    What is Really Happening?  

    So if alcohol doesn't topically numb, then why would it make baby calm down? There are two possible explanations, and both involve that fact that Baby is at least slightly inebriated. "But wait!" you may say, "Grandma didn't put a whiskey sour in baby's bottle, she just dipped her finger into her glass and rubbed that whiskey moistened finger on baby's gums! Baby couldn't really be intoxicated just from that right?" Wrong!  

    Alcohol can actually absorb into the bloodstream very quickly through the mouth. Both directly through the skin and also through inhalation of the resulting alcoholic vapors. And remember, a baby's tiny little body doesn't yet have the defense mechanisms of a full grown adult body. Even the tiniest amount of alcohol is enough to inebriate a small baby. And as we know, being inebriated makes us feel a little differently about things.

    For one thing, being intoxicated makes you chill out about things that seemed very stressful before. Like sharp new teeth forcing their way through the solid flesh of your gums. Secondly, alcohol in your bloodstream slows down our brain's pain receptors, so it's likely that what was a painful teething experience pre-whiskey, is suddenly feeling a lot more manageable.


    So it Probably Works? Awesome, I'll Go Get the Bottle!"

    Not unless you want to risk the safety and development of your precious child. In fact not only should this idea be disregarded but it needs to be treated as a dangerous piece of advice. Alcohol, even a few drops, can be very dangerous for an infant. In some cases, it may even be fatal. 

    There are much better ways of getting your child through the pain of teething. The most natural way is to allow your child to suck on something that has been chilled in the fridge or freezer. You don't want to give your child something completely frozen as that would damage their tongue and lips but something that is cold will do wonders to numb the child's gums while the teeth breakthrough.  If you don't mind using manufactured products there are several over the counter numbing agents that do a wonderful job. There are also a number of home remedies that can be found on the Internet.

     The take-home point here is that if your child is teething, screaming, and inconsolable, 1.) do NOT let your grandmother babysit and  2.) save the drop o' whiskey to calm and soothe your own grown-up nerves while you give baby something safe and age-appropriate.