Posts for: April, 2021
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs wrapped up the NFL regular season in January, setting single-season records in both catches and receiving yards. The Bills handily beat the Miami Dolphins, earning themselves the second seed in the AFC playoffs, and Diggs certainly did his part, making 7 catches for 76 yards. But what set the internet ablaze was not Diggs' accomplishments on the field but rather what the camera caught him doing on the sidelines—flossing his teeth!
The Twitterverse erupted with Bills fans poking fun at Diggs. But Diggs is not ashamed of his good oral hygiene habits, and CBS play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan expressed his support with “Dental hygiene is something to take note of, kids! There's never a bad place to floss” and “When you lead the NFL in catches and yards, you can floss anytime you want.”
We like to think so. There's an old joke among dentists:
Q. Which teeth do you need to floss?
A. Only the ones you want to keep.
Although this sounds humorous, it is borne out in research. Of note, a 2017 study showed that people who floss have a lower risk of tooth loss over periods of 5 years and 10 years, and a 2020 study found that older adults who flossed lost an average of 1 tooth in 5 years, while those who don't lost around 4 teeth in the same time period.
We in the dental profession stress the importance of flossing as a daily habit—and Stefon Diggs would likely agree—yet fewer than 1 in 3 Americans floss every day. The 2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, revealed that only 30% of Americans floss every day, while 37% floss less than every day and 32% never floss.
The biggest enemy on the football field may be the opposing team, but the biggest enemy to your oral health is plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and food debris that builds up on tooth surfaces. Plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease, the number one cause of tooth loss among adults. Flossing is necessary to remove plaque from between teeth and around the gums where a toothbrush can't reach. If not removed, plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by the specialized tools used in the dental office. Regular professional dental cleanings are also needed to get at those hard-to-reach spots you may have missed.
If Diggs can find time to floss during a major NFL game, the rest of us can certainly find a couple minutes a day to do it. While we might not recommend Diggs' technique of flossing from one side of the mouth to the other, we commend his enthusiasm and commitment to keeping his teeth and gums healthy. Along with good dental hygiene at home—or on the sidelines if you are Stefon Diggs—regular professional dental cleanings and checkups play a key role in maintaining a healthy smile for life.
How a preventive care visit with your family dentist in Bethesda, MD, can save your smile
It’s important to protect your smile. If your smile is unhealthy, it can increase your risk of serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or having a stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic. An unhealthy smile also diminishes your appearance, and your ability to chew your food. Preventive care visits are an important part of protecting your smile.
Dr. John Kelly of Bethesda Row Dental in Bethesda, MD, offers a wide variety of family dentistry services, including preventive care visits, to save your smile.
Ideally, you should have a preventive care visit once every 6 to 12 months, and you should have x-rays at least once each year. You also should have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 to 12 months.
During your preventive care visit, you will have:
- A complete dental examination, during which your dentist will look for signs of tooth decay, tooth wear, and damaged teeth.
- Any necessary x-rays, which will determine if you have tooth decay, a dental abscess, or bone loss due to periodontal disease.
- A check of the health of your gums and the underlying bone support of your teeth, to determine if you have gum disease or periodontal disease.
- A professional dental cleaning to remove the soft deposits (plaque) and hard deposits (tartar and stain) from your teeth.
Your dentist will develop a treatment plan based on the findings during your preventive care visit. Whether you need restorations such as fillings or crowns, or specialty care like root canal therapy, your family dentist will know what to do.
The treatment plan will also include how often you should have your teeth cleaned, depending on whether your gums are healthy, or whether you have periodontal disease. If you have periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend supportive periodontal therapy appointments every 3 to 4 months to manage the health of your smile.
In between preventive care visits, make sure you brush after eating and before bed, and floss your teeth at least once each day to keep your smile healthy.
To find out more about the importance of preventive care visits, and how they can save your smile, call Dr. John Kelly of Bethesda Row Dental in Bethesda, MD, at (301) 657-3220. Call today!