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    5 New Year’s resolutions every dental hygienist should make

    From eating healthier to establishing a workout routine, the new year is the perfect time to set goals for yourself.


    Dental floss

    The “F” Word | Resolution: Floss More

    Or should we?

    As hygienists, we desperately hope that our patients are considering new home care techniques as part of their New Year’s resolutions. We share frustrations with our patients who wince as we reach to remove the moderate calculus from their bleeding sulcus while Gingivitis-Gina promises she’ll “do better” after this cleaning. Fast forward six months and my sickle and I are experiencing deja vu as I ask about the “F” word in between wiping my bloody instrument on a 2x2.

    So, let me provide you with some insight.

    Related article: Parroting the flossing message

    Just like Britney’s breakdown in 2007, all of us can recall exactly what we were doing the day the Associated Press1 article on the “questionable” benefits of flossing was published. I was faculty with a dental hygiene program at the time and had to conduct a private “talk about our feelings” meeting with my students. I was prepared to bring in boxes of Kleenex and a counselor, as my students were devastated. In between sighs of shock and strain, we began to break down the article word by word. What we discovered was shocking.

    The article claims that aggressive flossing poses a trauma concern; we have all seen Stillman’s clefting noting evidence of “snapping” the floss when our patients are cramming six months of flossing into the night before their dental appointment. However, how many of us take the time to hand our patients a mirror or typodont and utilize the tell-show-do technique to demonstrate proper flossing adaptations with our patients?

    The article questions the American Dental Association’s website, which states “Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” However, every dental hygiene student in the country is taught that flossing is only indicated for patients with existing excellence in home care, minimal inflammation and closed embrasure spaces. The remaining (estimated) 99 percent of patients who do not have excellent home care and/or have gingival inflammation and/or attachment loss, according to dental hygiene curriculum, are not candidates for the good ol’ G(ingivitis) string. Moreover, recommendations for alternative interdental aids such as a floss holder, Proxabrush or tufted floss are better suited for plaque removal and reduction of inflammation.

    From one flossy hygienist to another: Let’s start making appropriate recommendations based on our patients’ needs. Step away from the floss!


    Katrina M. Sanders RDH, BSDH, M.Ed, RF
    Katrina M Sanders RDH, BSDH, M.Ed, RF, is a graduate and recipient of countless awards from the University of Minnesota’s School of ...


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