What the Hell, Dentists?
For all of my adult life, I’ve been flossing. Okay, okay. Not when I was in college–who needs to floss when the only thing going in your mouth is cold beer? And not when I was a young lawyer. Man, I was too busy trying to make partner to floss. And not when I was newly divorced—I gave up all reputable pursuits during that period of my life and flossing is the very definition of reputable, so there was that.
But, now, I’m saying. When I’ve begun to see the specter of the yawning grave and care about how long I’m gonna be on this mortal coil. A person in that position pays attention when the authorities say something adds years to your life. Flossing was one of those things. As a result, I’ve been flossing for YEARS. And you’re saying flossing has no demonstrable benefits?
For the last forty years, the dental profession has put flossing next to Godliness. I mean, right smack up against it. I didn’t just take up flossing for my health. I flossed because it was the RIGHT thing to do. I was a better person for flossing. Flossing gave me MORAL points. I’d look in the mirror at this stupid activity and think, yeah, this stupid piece of string keeps breaking in your stupid fingers because if God had meant you to put something between your teeth, she wouldn’t have made them SO DAMN CLOSE TOGETHER. But, that’s okay. You will go to heaven. With clean teeth.
Flossing was my get-out-of-your-slovenly-habits-free card. I might go to bed with my mascara on. I might rack my brain to remember the last time I took a vitamin. I might forget to wear deodorant in July in Memphis, Tennessee and only remember when I begin to sweat like a pig. But, by God, I flossed.
Now I read where, after some diligent research, the AP can find no actual, reliable studies showing flossing is beneficial. We’re not saying the studies disagree. Or the results are debatable. Or tough to discern. NO RELIABLE STUDIES HAVE EVER BEEN DONE! One study lasted for the astounding period of . . . two weeks. One focused on a single instance of flossing.
It’s like I’ve been eating spinach because Popeye told me to.
This is not a no-harm, no-foul situation. I have heart issues that mean flossing isn’t just flossing. It’s brushing, followed by mouthwash, followed by flossing. Flossing entails risks. Every time I release groady bacteria into my mouth, I have to make sure the buggers are zapped before they travel to my heart and infect it. Or as the article says, “Though frequency is unclear, floss can dislodge bad bacteria that invade the bloodstream and cause dangerous infections, especially in people with weak immunity, according to the medical literature.” I am not weak. I am BRAVE every time I floss. As it now appears, for no reason.
So, okay, the dentists still say brushing is good. But nothing shows adding flossing to the mix is worth anything. That’s a fifty-fifty record in the dental advice department, as far as I’m concerned.
It’s like me, the writer, advising dentists to always put a period at the end of a sentence and to end a question, draw a duck.
The failure of the one outshines the success of the other, doesn’t it?
If four out of five dentists recommended I wake up tomorrow morning, I wouldn’t do it.
You dentists just keep on flossing. And when you do, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Who’s the fool now, you with the string dangling from your teeth?