It has happened again….‘Dental Flossgate.’


By Bill Derby

I had my semi-annual teeth cleaning last week. A very efficient and talented dental hygienist cleaned my pearly whites in record time. She always asks me if I floss regularly and of course I answer, “Every morning.”

“Your teeth and gums are looking real good Bill,” she exclaimed.

Just this past week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “has removed flossing as a recommended practice after questions arose about its helpfulness.

I asked my dental hygienist, “What’s up with the ‘you don’t need to floss since it’s not really effective anymore government report,” She laughed and asked me if I do everything the government says.

“I try to do everything they ask me. Pay taxes too, ahr, arg, offth,” I replied best I could with her dental tools in my mouth.

She said, “Our office has been talking about that all week. It’s going to keep us in business. It’s ridiculous.”

As if they didn’t have something better to investigate, the Associated Press (AP) went snooping around the research of the health department and found they had left the dental floss effectiveness research up to someone else. A smart government employee saved us $500 million with that decision.

A news release stated, “Last year, the AP had asked the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for their dental floss effectiveness evidence. When the feds issued the latest dietary guidelines this year, the flossing recommendation had been removed. In a letter to the AP, the government acknowledged the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.”

I thought, “Humm…..this could be as big a story as Watergate or the missing 33,000 emails or missing Whitewater files!  But no, it’s only about a roll of sticky, waxy piece of string used to remove bits of food fodder…”

Some of the research was done in England and we all know how hygienic and straight they grow their teeth over there. I can understand why eating too much fish and chips, drinking dark beer and standing in the foggy rain could make a bloke grind his teeth.

I can’t understand why the federal government would remove this recommendation. If you floss correctly it can’t hurt your teeth or gums. And flossing does remove a day’s worth of food particles.

Using toothpicks isn’t recommended either. Think about it.  Many toothpicks today are made in China and could be covered with Kung Fu, bird flu or, heaven forbid, swine flu. And they splinter.

Digging for a stuck popcorn kernel with a flimsy, splintered, whittled down piece of Chinese wood is just downright dangerous. Who knows where they get the trees to make toothpicks. But, I’m guilty of using anything that’s handy to dig out a piece of meat, a stringy piece of green spinach or a stuck blackberry seed. I prefer to use my handy Swiss Army knife which comes with a little plastic toothpick. When used correctly you can remove most anything lodged in there. If not, the Swiss Army knife has other tools that can do the job.

Try eating a delicious southern pork barbecue sandwich dripping in tangy sauce. It never fails that a few strands of pig get lodged between your best choppers. If you don’t floss or dig that surviving meat out, in a week or so your breath will smell like the city dump. Develop a habit of de-flossing that material out quickly.

During the research, statistics showed dental floss was not very effective in removing plaque. Common sense tells me that is probably true but that’s why you need to go see your dentist on a regular basis and have the plaque removed by an attractive and sweet dental hygienist.


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