Having Fun Re-Examining Flossing, and Seven Other Health Care Rules

no flossMight be movin’ to Montana soon
Just to raise me up a crop of
Dental Floss

Frank Zappa —  1973

I can now admit it. I am a crappy dental flosser. I have carried the excuse that vigorous flossing either inflames mouth sores I already have, or aggravates my tendency towards getting them. While that is true, my bad habit was more because flossing just seemed like one more thing to add to a nighttime ritual that already was too bogged down with minutiae, when all I really want to do is read a few pages of whatever thriller is at my bedside, kiss Barb goodnight, and fall asleep. And each of the multiple dental hygienists my dentist has employed has complemented me on the appearance of my teeth since I stopped getting cola stains all over them. So why bother with flossing? But I did feel guilty.

Guilty no more! As reported in the New York Times, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services no longer recommends flossing in its dietary guidelines. It seems there aren’t any good studies demonstrating that flossing really does prevent cavities. It may help against gingivitis, but even that evidence isn’t the strongest. I can now read my latest potboiler with a lighter heart. But just so you don’t think I am becoming a total libertarian, here are some current health rules I believe we should all still follow:

  1. Going swimming less than one hour after eating is still a bad idea, especially if you are swimming in a school of very hungry sharks.
  2. Spraying lighter fluid onto a glowing grill fire is verboten UNLESS you want to start global warming on your face.
  3. Texting, either while driving  or while sitting in the front row of a ball game still sucks, unless you enjoy getting the imprint of your steering wheel or a Rawlings Major League Baseball on your forehead (Note–an exemption to this rule can be given when White Sox are batting at the Cell.)
  4. Don’t crack your knuckles in the middle of an emotional love scene at the multiplex. It might not cause arthritis, but it will cause dirty looks to be aimed your way, and possibly a punch in the nose if a particularly sensitive soul is in the seat next to you.
  5. Picking your feet in Poughkeepsie–still not recommended. At least as long as Gene Hackman is alive.
  6. Drink lots of coffee. No wait, don’t drink coffee. Or feel free to drink all you want. Who knows? I’ll stick to tea.
  7. Have your men get a PSA  blood test. Have your kids and grandkids get immunized. No Joke.

Stay health, stay happy, and keep on the lookout for our next edition. Housing updates to come–I promise.

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