Anyone who has had their teeth cleaned knows IT is coming before IT even starts. Appointments have been cancelled just to avoid IT. When I was a kid, I’d attempt to floss my own teeth a couple of days before my appointment in the hopes of fooling my dentist. My half-hearted attempts never worked. Without fail, I’d always get IT…the flossing lecture.
In school, dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants are all taught some form of the flossing lecture. First, we learn the serious negative effects of gum disease. Then, we are taught the lecture. It comes in many forms and anecdotes. Floss twice a day. Floss the teeth on each side. Floss twice around the mouth. Only floss the teeth you want to keep. Floss, then floss more. Floss, floss, floss, floss, floss.
And here’s the dirty little secret that everyone who doesn’t work in a dental office admits…the lecture doesn’t work. Flossing is a personal choice.
How do we know the lecture doesn’t work? Try convincing anyone to do anything by lecturing them.
Studies show that dentists floss at about the same rate as the general public. In other words, we have about as good a chance of flossing as John Q, despite our supposed expertise.
I’ll never forget the periodontist (gum doctor) who taught at the dental school who smoked (bad for your gums in so many ways) and had gum disease so bad you could see and smell it from across the room. He studied gums exclusively for at least two years after he became a dentist. He didn’t floss. Go figure.
So what are those of us in the dental office to do? We just keep on keeping on. We try to teach young kids good habits while they’ll still listen. We educate. Hopefully, we listen. We offer encouragement and demonstrations and advice. We strive to teach without preaching. We give the lecture because we care.
Flossing really does have a variety of health benefits. We all know we should do it at least once a day. We just have to decide that we are going to change and make a habit. Change is hard, though.
If you decide to start flossing, there are plenty of us qualified to be your personal flossing trainers. At the very least, we could give you a long lecture. That’s only because we care.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please contact Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.