ADA, Federal Agencies, Dentists Still Encourage Flossing

In an op-ed in the New York Times (11/25, Holmes, Subscription Publication), Jamie Holmes, a fellow at New America, states that “would-be defenders of science” are criticizing expertise lately, as seen in the Associated Press report questioning the benefits of dental flossing due to the lack of strong evidence. Although the Department of Health and Human services, the American Dental Association, and others have “reaffirmed the importance of interdental cleaning,” Holmes states that many people now “mistakenly think that ‘science’ doesn’t support flossing.” According to Holmes, “misconceptions about the relation between scientific research, evidence and expertise” explain the confusion. Holmes adds that while some feel “only randomized controlled trials provide real knowledge,” in the case of flossing, “dentists know from a range of evidence, including clinical experience, that interdental cleaning is critical to oral health and that flossing, properly done, works.”

WebMD (11/22, Pagán) discussed the benefits of flossing, stating “many dentists and periodontists say the reason they recommend flossing isn’t because of research,” rather “it’s because of what they see in their patients.”

The ADA released a statement on the benefits of using interdental cleaners, and a Science in the News article titled “The Medical Benefit of Daily Flossing Called Into Question” discusses evidence about the impact of flossing on oral health. MouthHealthy.org also provides resources for patients on flossing, including the correct flossing technique.

Gum Disease Can Worsen Pain For Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers

Dental Asia (9/30) reports on the ways in which poor dental hygiene and gum disease can contribute to and worsen rheumatoid arthritis. By testing gum disease strains on arthritic mice, researchers found that Porphyromonas bacteria made the mice’s joint pain worse. Dental Asia recommends that people with rheumatoid arthritis who wish to prevent gum disease use a moving toothbrush, rinse their mouth with mouthwash, quit smoking, and eat a healthy and clean diet.

Everyday Health Lists Best And Worst Seasonal Foods For Dental Health

Everyday Health (10/1) stated “some seasonal fare can take a toll on the health of our teeth and gums,” listing “nine foods to either love or limit through the fall and winter holidays.” For example, the article advised limiting candy due to its high sugar content, adding that holiday favorites like candy canes or toffee are “sticky things that sit on the teeth,” says ADA spokesperson Dr. Matthew Messina. If indulging in seasonal sweets, the article advised brushing, flossing, and drinking plenty of water afterward. The article also stated it is unnecessary to completely avoid favorite seasonal foods and beverages to maintain oral health. “You can eat anything in moderation,” says Dr. Messina. “And make sure you brush twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist regularly.”

MouthHealthy.org provides additional information on foods that affect dental health.

Researchers Find Associations Between Gum Disease And Several Health Problems

The Washington Post (10/1, Levingston) reported that researchers are finding potential links “between gum or periodontal disease” and several different types of health problems. Although “experts are far from understanding what these links might mean,” the “links between gum disease and diabetes, at-risk pregnancy, heart disease and stroke have been so consistent that some insurers offer extra preventive periodontal care at little or no cost to people with those conditions.” The article pointed out that according to the CDC “nearly half of all Americans age 30 and older have some form of gum disease; in people 65 and older, 70 percent have some degree of periodontal disease.” The article noted, “Signs of gum disease include bleeding, red or swollen gums; areas where the gum seems separated from the teeth; bad breath; and loose teeth, which can cause changes in your bite, according to the American Dental Association.”

        MouthHealthy.org also provides information for patients gum disease,heart disease and oral health, and diabetes and oral health.

HouseBeautiful Recommends ADA Toothbrush Storage Guidelines.

HouseBeautiful (9/19, Piro) included storing a toothbrush in the medicine cabinet among its list of “common bathroom mistakes.” Storing a toothbrush in a cabinet or container may prevent it from drying between uses, “creating a welcome environment for bacteria.” The article notes “the American Dental Association recommends storing toothbrushes in an upright position, and not touching other brushes, to mitigate the risk of cross-contamination.”

        MouthHealthy.org and the Oral Health Topics on ADA.org provide additional information on toothbrush care for patients and dental professionals.

Skipping Regular Dental Visits May Affect Oral Health

The Independent (UK) (9/20, Gander) states that people who skip regular dental visits “could suffer rapid deterioration of their oral health.” The article states that in addition to looking for tooth decay, “dentists also check for mouth cancer and other ailments, which could potentially save a person’s life.” A UK dentist provides a breakdown of how lack of dental care could affect a person’s oral health over time, mentioning it took him 18 months to reconstruct a patient’s teeth after years of dental neglect.

        The ADA recommends people receive regular dental care at intervals their dentist determines.

        MouthHealthy.org and the Oral Health Topics on ADA.org provide information on oral and oropharyngeal cancer for patients and for dental professionals.

Insurers With High Enrollment Numbers May Be Given Leniency Regarding Consumer Complaints

Modern Healthcare (9/21, Herman, Subscription Publication) reports that in a recent memo, CMS stated insurance companies which offer Affordable Care Act plans through HealthCare.gov, the Federal government’s marketplace, “may not face ‘enforcement remedies’ in 2017 if they fail to follow all of the rules around consumer complaints.” Several large insurers have exited ACA marketplaces, and the remaining companies “likely will absorb the members who will lose their coverage.” CMS explained this “scenario ‘may present temporary operational challenges’ that prevent exchange plans from meeting all federal standards, specifically those related to ‘consumer casework.’”

Dentist Encourages Mindful Dentistry

The New York Times (9/21, Gelles, Subscription Publication) states that “everyone should be brushing their teeth twice a day, bookending the day,” says Dr. Fern White, a dentist in Australia who practices mindful dentistry. “If you do so mindfully, you can also be ‘brushing your brain.’” The article shares an approach for mindful brushing, including breathing and relaxation tips. Dr. White says mindful brushing “sets a peaceful tone for the day ahead or the night ahead.”

Tips Provided For Brushing Teeth.

Mayo Clinic (5/3) provides tips for brushing teeth, noting the ADA recommends brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet, replacing toothbrushes every three to four months, and scheduling regular dental checkups. In addition, the article states it’s best to avoid brushing teeth immediately after consuming acidic foods or beverages to avoid harming enamel. SmilesNY provides additional information on the proper brushing technique.

Replacing Toothbrushes Every Three To Four Months Advised.

In a list of seven “easy cleaning tricks,” BuzzFeed (5/2) recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months. Mentioning that soaking a toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthrinse overnight may be an option for cleaning a toothbrush before it is time to replace it, the article notes the American Dental Association states that there is no clinical evidence this approach has a positive or negative effect on oral health.

Stop by SmilesNY for additional information on toothbrush care!