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New Study Drives Home the Importance of Tooth Brushing and Dental Flossing

August 13, 2006

The list of excuses for not brushing or flossing is endless, but according to a new study published in the Journal of Periodontology in August of 2006, these are two tasks that should not be omitted from the daily oral hygiene routine.
Researchers found that tongue and tooth brushing in combination with dental flossing significantly decreased gingival bleeding by 38 percent after a two-week oral hygiene program. Halitosis, or bad breath, was also reduced. In the group that did not floss as part of their daily routine, gingival bleeding sites increased by almost four percent.

This industry-supported study was designed and conducted by NYUCD investigators. The study was a two-treatment, examiner-blind, randomized, parallel group, controlled study. The population under study was fifty-one twin pairs between 12 and 21 years of age that were randomized to a 2-week supervised and unsupervised treatment regimen consisting of 1) tongue brushing and toothbrushing 2) toothbrushing + flossing. Clinical endpoints were gingival bleeding (papillary bleeding score) and oral malodor (levels of volatile sulfur compounds). After 2 weeks of treatment, the toothbrushing + flossing group had a statistically significant decrease in papillary bleeding score values of 0.558 (41.5% versus baseline), whereas the tongue brushing and toothbrushing group showed no improvement from baseline. In addition, both treatment regimens demonstrated highly statistically significant reductions in intraoral breath values versus baseline. Thus it was concluded that tongue and toothbrushing plus flossing significantly decreased gingival bleeding and oral malodor after 2 weeks.
According to Walter A. Bretz, DDS, PhD, Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, New York University College of Dentistry and the mentor of the study, “Gingival bleeding and halitosis is often the first sign of poor oral hygiene that may eventually lead to further periodontal problems. A good way to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay is through at-home oral hygiene care and routine dental visits.”

Also, “Bad breath and bleeding gums can also occur in people who routinely brush their teeth and gums,” said Kenneth A. Krebs, DMD and American Academy of Periodontology president. “Bleeding gums can be a sign of periodontal disease, and bad breath may be from certain bacteria that have built up in the mouth. People with bleeding gums or bad breath should ask their dentist or periodontist about their periodontal health.”

This study has been quoted in a press release of the American Academy of Periodontology and in Live Science Magazine.