To floss or not to floss?


Actually, the question usually is :  How often do you floss?  And the answer, if we’re honest with ourselves and our dentist, actually is:  Not very often.

Less than half of us floss every day, and around 20 percent of Americans don’t floss at all.  After 30 years in dentistry, I’m starting to wonder:  Is flossing really necessary?

Research on the topic does not support the long-time advice for flossing  twice a day. Authors of an article published in the Journal of Dental Research, for example, did a systematic review of several research studies on the relationship between flossing and the prevention of cavities.

Only one research project – in which children had their teeth flossed by dental professionals every day for nearly two years – showed a dramatic decrease in the risk of cavities.  But no one I know has this done.

“Self-performed” flossing – which is what the rest of us (sometimes) do — has not been proven to reduce the risk of cavities. Does that mean we’re off the hook for doing anything besides brushing our teeth?  Actually, no.  Think about those particles of food that come out when you do floss. Leaving those particles and unseen numberous  bacteria between your teeth and at your gum line is just not a good idea.

But alternatives to flossing are certainly available.  Those tiny brushes that fit between your teeth are available in a variety of brands, and tend to be easier to use than floss, especially if you wear braces!

Devices that spray of stream of water can also work well. Depending on the brand, they are known as waterpiks, water jets or “oral irrigators.”
The point is:  your toothbrush can’t reach everywhere. If you hate to floss, try something else.  And for those 20 percent of you, who do nothing besides brush, please note that using a antimicrobial mouthwash is better than doing nothing!

Oh, and for what it’s worth: You can stop lying at the dentist’s office.  Your hygienist knows if your flossing or not!

Dr. Nevills to Dr. Nevills

Dear Dad,
I can hardly believe it’s been a whole year since I joined you in practice at Nevills Family Dentistry. I feel like I continue to learn every day, and you are my best resource and support.

I’ve learned so much this past year not only about dentistry but also about what it means to be a true Doctor.

Fathers day blog photo

Here are just a few things I’ve learned in our first year together:

  •  What some consider the “gold standard” treatment options (which we tended to learn in dental school) are often the most expensive, aggressive, or time consuming and not always the best options for our patients
  • It’s worth the time and effort it takes to find alternative solutions to meet patients’ needs – ask questions, listen, and be willing to think outside the box
  •   We can be creative and cost-effective and still be clinically excellent
  • We’re in the business of helping people maintain their health and quality of life – and sometimes this has little to do with dentistry and more to do with The Bigger Picture of life
  •  As a doctor, and as a person who truly cares about others, I will always carry the weight of peoples’ health on my shoulders; but it’s a worthy responsibility and an opportunity to serve people to my greatest capacity

I can’t begin to describe how lucky I am to have you as my professional mentor. I benefit everyday from the time you take to discuss things with me, from patient treatments to business decisions to areas of personal growth. I’ve learned to use our materials well, I’ve implemented different ways of problem-solving and treatment-planning, and I’ve appreciated the trust you’ve built with our patients.

They know we’re looking out for their best interest, and I feel very blessed to have the freedom to make decisions I think are best to help people. I know our office is a place where our patients can find relief from dental worries and pain.

You’ve worked hard these past 30 years to grow a wonderful practice, a place where both patients and staff feel cared for. I’ve had the privilege to come in the door and contribute to the “Dr. Nevills Way” – what an awesome legacy!

Thank you for inspiring me to pursue this profession, and for encouraging me along the path I took to get here. When I go to work, I feel greatly supported, and I have all I need to continue to grow and flourish in my career.

I’ve also watched the choices you’ve made in your personal life over the years, and it’s inspired me with mine. I’m getting married soon – as you well know – and I remember how you were there for us as kids and always seemed to choose “family.”

It meant a lot to me that you showed up for (and sometimes coached!) all of my sports games and school events. You were there for Saturday morning grocery shopping and cartoons, took us on special trips to Disneyland, came on school field trips, and—of course – so much more.

You are a wonderful dentist and a terrific father. I’m grateful for your example and I’m inspired to be the best person and the best dentist I can be.

Happy Father’s Day, Dr. Nevills!


Dr. Nevills

p.s. – Please don’t think about retiring too soon. I hope we’ll be doing this together for a very long time!