No strong proof that flossing your teeth has medical benefit

This is the third in a series of "no evidence" posts I've made recently, with the first two being "No evidence that N95 respirators are better than surgical masks" and "No benefit to locked mental health wards."

Today's serves as another example of where something seemed like a good idea but... "sURpriSe!!!!" maybe it isn't. 

Certainly, the evidence is lacking to support the bullying that goes on in dental chairs around the world.
"Are you flossing?"
"Yes....."
"Are you sure?"
"Uhhh....." *guilty face*

Personally, as a reluctant flosser, and as a person who questioned the risk/benefit return of having wisdom teeth extracted, I feel a little bit vindicated here. I was always curious 1) if I asked the dentist to guess whether I was flossing or not, could they tell? and 2) Does flossing really do anything useful?

I can't lie to my dentist... how could they do their job if I did? So when asked "have you been flossing?" I usually tell them "no" or "yah but just for 2 months" if I had been doing so, in a phase of thinking I should probably try to stick with flossing. 

Last time I was feeling contemplative in between wafts of chemical smells and *wizzzzzzzes* of the drill in the neighbouring stall, I told my dentist and hygenist that if they could show me solid evidence of benefit of flossing, then I would do it. The hygienist listed a bunch of benefits and I went home to check it out. All the PubMedding in the world didn't find anything to back up her statements. Since they couldn't produce a strong reason for me to do it, so I decided to stop.

Flossing is not fun, it creates waste, and I can think of better things to do with 5 minutes a day. In fact, with those 5 minutes today, I can bring you this article in The Journal of Clinical Peridontology, which found:

The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal. All investigated devices for inter-dental self-care seem to support the management of gingivitis, however, to a varying extent.

The paper did find that  inter-dental brushes (IDBs) are effective in removing plaque. These brushes I have tried and they look like little pipe-cleaners that you shove between your teeth. It feels about as good as it sounds!!! Ow.

I may wait for the randomized controlled trial (RCT) proving that those angry little bristles decrease caries (cavities) before attempting their use again, as "plaque removal" is but a surrogate marker for other things.

Further to the lack of advancement of evidence-based practice in dentistry, one periodontist. Dr Ghilzon, when interviewed by the CBC said:

I would say if you know how to floss I would continue just in case it does make a difference

When the CBC talked to Matthew J. Messina, a dentist and spokesman for the U.S. dental association, they pressed him. He acknowledged weak evidence, but he blamed research participants who didn't floss correctly.

It seems Dentistry is eons behing medicine in terms of evidence gathering let alone application. Whether employing patient-blaming, citing anecdotes, or declining to accept the value of evidence, Dentistry is set to follow Medicine in suffering the same "just in case" approach that dooms patients to overtesting and overtreating and promotes ignorance of the harms of intervention.  

See the original CBC article here.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/health/dental-...

Follow Up: The Name of Cancer: Even Aboriginal Languages are Changing

In my last post, I shared an article that advocated for changing the name of "pre-cancers" and "early cancers" to reflect their benign, watchable, or treatable natures. The hope in doing so is to remove the stigma of "The Big C" for patients, allowing them to see a clear difference between aggressive cancers and their indolent cousins.

Working in the NWT and Nunavut, I must say that it warms my heart to see that Canadian Aboriginals are taking a big part in changing the terminology. Some of the words and phrases are so remarkably apt, perhaps we'll be borrowing them into English.

Language officials in Nunavut released their new word for cancer this week.

The new term “kagguti” comes from the Inuktitut word kagguaq, which means “knocked down out of natural order."

It replaces “annia aaqqijuajunnangituq” or “an incurable ailment," which officials felt was giving people the wrong impression of the disease.

I love the translation of the word kagguti, it explains cancer at a cellular level and on a personal one too. The cells have lost the signals that keep them from over-replicating, and the cancer could prevent a person from living their life in the expected or natural way.

Read more on CBC News.

Health spending expected to reach $211B in 2013

Did you ever wonder what healthcare costs in Canada? The Canadian Institute for Health Information can tell you.

The growth of health care spending in Canada slowed to its lowest rate in nearly 15 years, according to a new report.

In 2013, total health spending is expected to reach a record $211 billion or $5,988 per person, the Canadian Institute for Health Information said in its report Tuesday on national trends in health expenditures from 1975 to 2013. . . .

Read more at CBC News