Flossing is an essential part of maintaining good oral health. However, studies have shown that many of us struggle to floss our teeth properly. Whether it is due to sensory issues or simply poor technique, the consequences of incorrect flossing can be detrimental. Not only can it cause bleeding gums, but it can also lead to gum damage and recession, which goes against the very purpose of flossing.
Gum Bleeding: A Sign of Inflammation
Led by periodontologist David Basali from Tufts University, a team of researchers aimed to find a solution to reduce gum bleeding, a sign of inflammation. It is important to understand that flossing serves the purpose of disrupting the biofilm created by oral microbes, which can lead to various health issues. Our mouths, like other parts of our bodies, harbor both beneficial and harmful bacteria that attach themselves to our teeth, providing easy access to our bloodstream. This invasion triggers an inflammatory response that can result in inflammation in other areas of our bodies, such as the heart and brain, and has even been linked to diseases like cancer and diabetes.
To test the effectiveness of a specific flossing technique, the researchers conducted a randomized and single-blinded clinical trial. They provided a group of volunteers with clear flossing instructions, while a control group continued with their usual flossing routine. The 36 participants, all displaying early signs of dental disease, were assessed four times over an eight-week period.
Results: The Power of Proper Technique
The findings of the study were promising. The trial group, consisting of individuals who followed the prescribed technique, showed significant improvement in gum health. Over the eight-week period, 88 percent of the trial group mastered the flossing technique, resulting in a remarkable 70 percent reduction in gum bleeding. In contrast, the control group, who continued with their usual flossing habits, only experienced a 30 percent reduction.
The AHVFT Technique: A Step-by-Step Guide to Proper Flossing
Participants in the trial group were instructed to use an adapted horizontal vertical flossing technique (AHVFT). This technique, when done correctly, proved to be highly effective in reducing gum bleeding. Here is a step-by-step guide to the AHVFT:
1. Cut off approximately 32 cm (18 inches) of floss.
2. With palms facing each other, wind each end of the floss around the ring finger of each hand, leaving about 12 cm (6 inches) of floss between both hands.
3. Fold your hands towards the suspended floss, so your palms are facing down, and pick up the floss between your thumb and index finger in each hand.
4. Gently place the floss between two teeth, using your thumb and index finger to control the floss and avoid cutting into the gum.
5. Push the floss up against the side of one tooth and move it back and forth in a sawing motion while applying upward and downward pressure, as if drying your back with a towel.
6. Repeat this technique for all your teeth.
The fact that the trial group consisted of dental students and assistants might explain their willingness to adopt the new technique. However, this study is groundbreaking in proving that using floss with a specific technique can result in less gum infection compared to individuals who stick to their usual flossing routine. These findings offer hope for people who have struggled with flossing, like myself, and encourage us to give this new technique a try.
Proper flossing technique is crucial for maintaining optimal gum health. The study conducted by researchers at Tufts University suggests that mastering the AHVFT technique can lead to a substantial reduction in gum bleeding. By disrupting the biofilm created by oral microbes, this technique helps prevent the negative consequences associated with inflammation. While further research is needed to validate these findings, it is worth exploring this new approach to flossing for better oral health outcomes. So, let’s embrace this breakthrough and incorporate the AHVFT technique into our daily oral hygiene routine. Your gums will thank you!