I have been a dental hygienist for 24 yrs now. When I first started out I really thought that all I had to do was tell people to brush and floss and they would. I was going to make all of my patients healthy. Change the dental world I was!! Wow what a rude awakening I had!!!
I then decided that I needed to educate my patients better. So I would explain that dental plaque (one of the main causes of periodontal (gum) disease) is a soft, sticky layer of bacteria that forms every 24 hrs. on your teeth. If you don’t brush and floss it away it would harden and become calculus (tartar), which then can be only removed by your hygienist. If it is not removed you can lose your teeth. That bacteria in the plaque, which has hardened and turned into tartar is now growing in numbers and these bacterial toxins and the body’s enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. REALLY, was my patient’s response. Still I had no luck with getting my patients to floss daily.
As the years have gone by studies are showing that dental plaque can affect the entire body. We know it is linked to;
Preterm, low birth weight babies
Okay now I have the ammunition I need to get patients to floss. Nope, not so much as one of my good friends says. According to the AAP (American Academy of Periodontology) only about 13.5 % of Americans floss daily. What is a hygienist to do?
The other day a patient and I were talking and she said do you know what? What, I said. She said, “Do you know that Dr Oz says that you should floss everyday, because it can affect your whole body if you don’t? “REALLY”, I said. Turns out all these years all I needed was Dr. Oz. So now I am not going to explain everything anymore. I’m simply going to say, “Did you know that Dr. Oz says you should floss everyday or it could affect your entire body?” Crazy isn’t it?? Dr. Oz where were you 24 yrs. ago? I could have saved myself a lot of headaches.
Amy Linsell, RDH