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Area health specialists: Flossing remains important

Elyssa Yonta, 15, of Cortland, performs chest compressions on a mannequin Thursday while Cortland Police Department officer Rob Reyngoudt, left in background, assists other students with their technique. The CPR class was part of the police department’s annual Junior Police Academy.

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Elyssa Yonta, 15, of Cortland, performs chest compressions on a mannequin Thursday while Cortland Police Department officer Rob Reyngoudt, left in background, assists other students with their technique. The CPR class was part of the police department’s annual Junior Police Academy.

To floss, or not to floss?

That is what many Americans are asking themselves after the recommendation to floss had been removed from the federal government’s latest dietary guidelines, without notice.

The recommendation had been part of the government’s dietary guidelines since 1979. In a report by The Associated Press, which initially reported the finding, the government had sent the organization a letter stating the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched.

But Cortland County dentists disagree.

“I think the study is inconclusive,” said CarriLynn Stafford, a dental hygienist at Dental Arts Family Dentistry, of Cortland. “I’ve seen the proof. I live with it every day.”

Stafford has worked as a hygienist since 2003, but has worked in the dentistry field since 1996. She said she is also living proof that flossing works.

“I never flossed when I was younger and I always had cavities,” she said. “I began flossing and hardly ever had any cavities since I did.”

Flossing is still important because it removes bacteria and any food stuck between your teeth, which bacteria like to feed on, Stafford said.

Shannon Dickens, a doctor in the Family Health Network Dental office, of Moravia, reiterated Stafford’s opinion.

“Cleaning stuff out of your mouth is important,” Dickens said. “Bacteria in the mouth can affect the heart or causediabetes.”

She said the bacteria can find its way through the gums in your mouth and make its way into your blood stream; then causing a variety of potential problems. There had always been the theory that bacteria in the mouth was related to various health issues and medical studies finally began linking the two recently, Dickens said.

But due to The Associated Press’ report, she said, “I feel like we’re going backwards (in the dentistry field).”

Peter McGinnis, of Cortland, said he had heard about flossing no longer being a part of the dietary guidelines, but it does not bother him because he rarely flossesanyway.

“Every six months, the dentist do it just fine,” McGinnis said about his flossinghabits.
To him, it is painful and he has just never enjoyed it. So, whether it is a requirement or not, McGinnis has no plans of changing his habits.

The same goes for Anthony Lasik, of Albany, but in his case he could never completely stop flossing.

“I would still do it for general hygiene reasons,” Lasik said during an interview Friday on Main Street in Cortland. “I’d still want to get the food out of my mouth and remove the plaque.”

While he does not floss daily, he does floss about two to three times a week.

Stafford said in her opinion peopleshould floss at least once a day. It does not matter what time of the day it is, either. Dickens said she suggests to her patients that they floss twice a day, or at least once at night.

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