Floss your teeth to keep gum disease at bay

August 7th, 2008 - 11:39 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 7 (IANS) Dentists often tell patients to floss their teeth to protect them from decay and periodontal disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. A recent study showed flossing can also help reduce the amount of gum disease-causing bacteria found in the mouth, contributing to healthy teeth and gums. The New York University study examined 51 sets of twins aged between 12 and 21 years. Each set was randomly assigned a two-week treatment regimen with one twin brushing with a manual brush and toothpaste and the other twin brushing with a manual toothbrush and toothpaste and flossing.

At the end of the two-week trial, samples were taken from both pairs of twins and compared for levels of bacteria commonly associated with periodontal disease.

The results indicated that those twins who did not floss had significantly more of the bacteria associated with periodontal disease when compared to the matching twin who flossed in addition to brushing with toothpaste.

“This study illustrates the impact flossing can have on oral health. The twins experimental model is a powerful tool to help sort out genetic and environmental factors that often confound the interpretation of treatment studies,” explained Kenneth Kornman, editor of the Journal of Periodontology.

“This study demonstrates that flossing can have an important and favourable impact on an individual, as compared to that of a non-flossing individual with similar genetics and possibly similar habits.

“Twins tend to share the same or similar environmental factors such as dietary habits, health and life practices, as well as genetics. In this case, the only difference was flossing, and the outcome was significant. Flossing may significantly reduce the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth.”

The study was published recently in the Journal of Periodontology, publication of the American Academy of Periodontology.

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