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Dentistry Ohio

Please Pass the Dental Floss

We’ve all been there.  After lunch your tongue finds a piece of chicken breast, or perhaps a raspberry seed firmly lodged between two teeth.  Maybe you’ve taken a peek in the bathroom mirror and notice a stray appendage from a broccoli floret, or a curd of cottage cheese riding stow-away between your incisor and cuspid teeth.  There’s no dental floss or tooth picks handy.  How far would you go to free yourself from this type of dilemma? 

In recent months both Newsweek and the American Dental Association have reported on a national survey released in October of 2017 by Ipsos, global market research and consulting firm.  It seems that 80% of Americans admit to having used something outside the traditional dental hygiene box in an effort to free their teeth from unwanted food particles.  1005 adults were surveyed to provide a list of the most common inappropriate implements utilized:  fingernails (61%), folded paper or card (40%), cutlery (21%), safety pin (14%), and a strand of hair (7%). 

And make no mistake!  People know better.  Within the study, conducted on behalf of Waterpik in consultation with the ADA, Ipsos discovered that 63% of the participants admitted they knew they had no business using their weapon of choice instead of some sort of established interdental hygiene device.  42% acknowledged that they experienced pain secondary to their creative, non-traditional efforts. 

ADA member dentists reported that patients have told them about a myriad of unsafe and unsanitary items used to free themselves of unwanted trapped food.  Items such as twigs, toenail clippings, matchbooks, electrical wires, screwdrivers and pocket knives all made the list.  

“It’s really easy to use clean and safe items on-the-go and at home,” insists Dr. Britney Seymour, ADA spokesperson and assistant professor at Harvard School of Dental Medicine,“like string floss, dental picks and water flossers.  The key is finding what works best for you to stick with every day.”  Dr. Seymour suggests that people start their search “by looking for products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  That way, you know it’s safe for your teeth and will get the job done, removing germs rather than introducing them.” 

In my hands nothing makes better sense than good old string dental floss.  But the Ipsos study tells us that:

  • 16% say they floss at least once each day
  • 20% say they floss only when something is stuck between their teeth
  • 8% say they NEVER floss under any circumstances
  • 44% of people admit they’ve lied to their dentist or hygienist about their flossing frequency
  • 55% say flossing is too time consuming
  • 16% say flossing is painful
  • 9% find the procedure to be “gross”

So friends, ‘fess up.  Where do YOU fit into this picture? 

Tagged In: Dental Hygiene

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