The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), the society representing the periodontists, or "gum specialists", is highly interested in the topic of hygiene since poor hygiene or the lack of early intervention in periodontal disease are a main cause for the majority of the issues they treat. Here is a direct quote from them and their president, so you do not have to take my word for it!
"Commonly referred to as gum disease, periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease caused when bacteria in plaque below the gum line lead to swelling, irritation, and possibly receding gums and tooth loss. Periodontal disease has been linked to many chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. Despite its prevalence, periodontal disease is hardly ever discussed, resulting in a lack of urgency for people to properly care for their gums.
“There’s clearly more work to be done when it comes to educating Americans about the importance of oral hygiene. There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in plaque, and brushing alone does not remove the bacteria that live below the gum line,” says AAP President Joan Otomo-Corgel, DDS, MPH. “The good news about periodontal disease is, with proper and timely care, it’s treatable and often reversible. If a person is at risk for periodontal disease, a periodontist has the training and expertise to determine the best course of treatment.”"
Our goal when you visit us is to keep you from even needing the periodontal specialist's help. We will start by bugging you about your home hygiene, especially brushing and flossing. Appropriate techniques and adjuncts (electrical toothbrushes, mouth rinses and other teeth cleaning devices) will be discussed. Diet is important too, and I will publish something soon about the repeated studies that show how bad sugars are for teeth. If our precise measurements detect early gum diseases, we will do everything we can to help you stop their progress.
Now, for the funny stuff. According to a study conducted last year by Harris Poll on behalf of the AAP (2012 U.S. adults over the top 10 U.S. markets, defined as about 212 people in each of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and Houston), it seems that asking about people's dental hygiene is not quite the same as getting an honest answer! It also appears that the daily floss is quite a shore for a lot of people. Some results of the study:
- More than a quarter (27%) of U.S. adults admit lying to the dentist about how often they floss their teeth.
- Believe it or not, New Yorkers are more likely than those in other metro areas to include flossing in their dental daily care.
- The southern people (Atlanta, for example) came out as more likely to be honest with their dentist about their flossing habits (so maybe I was getting less little white lies from my Florida patients!) While someone from Atlanta is more likely to warn friends about something stuck in their teeth, those from D.C. (shocker...political correctness prevails?) are less likely to do so.
- 3 of 5 (60%) of U.S. adults who have a partner say that their partner's oral health (teeth, gums, breath...) has an effect on their intimacy.
- Over a third of Americans (actually more than 40% for Boston, Los Angeles and Atlanta, and especially women) say that a smile is the first they notice when they meet someone they are attracted to.
- Even more interesting: More than a third of Americans would rather do an unpleasant activity over daily flossing...Some examples?
- 18% would rather wash a sink full of dirty dishes
- 14% would rather wait in a long check-out line
- 14% would rather clean the toilet
- 9% would rather sit in gridlock traffic for an hour (Chicagoans especially!)
- 9% would rather do their taxes
Wow!!! I will personally take flossing over any of those (especially taxes and toilets)! I hope you will too...
Another quote for the AAP to try to reinforce your own convictions about the need for flossing:
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth that form plaque below the gum line. There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in plaque, and brushing alone does not remove the bacteria that live below the gum line. Poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of periodontal disease, but several other risk factors play a role in the development and progression of the disease including smoking, age, and genetics. While periodontal disease is mostly preventable and treatable, the early warning signs can be painless, leading to a lack of urgency in people to establish adequate oral hygiene habits or to discuss their periodontal health with a dental professional. With an appropriate diagnosis, the damage from periodontal disease is reversible in many cases.
That is all for the survey. I hope this blog was educational, motivating and even entertaining!
Let me know if you have any questions about your dental care....And don't forget to floss and brush!
Christiane Ashba, DMD
N.B.: For a lot of info about your gums: https://www.perio.org/