Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Can Dental Floss Make You A Better Lawyer?

jat reeves headshotRarely have I been happier than the day I learned regular flossing may not actually be helping my teeth after all.

No longer will I have to endure the shame and guilt inflicted by the dental professionals who take care of the inside of my mouth. For years they have been chiding me for not flossing regularly. They ask if I want my teeth to rot. They give me sample bags stuffed with dental floss.

Now comes this study that says there is little reliable evidence that flossing actually prevents cavities or gum disease.

Meanwhile, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have quietly dropped any mention of flossing from their most recent dietary guidelines, according to The New York Times.

And in that same Times article, dental experts say it has been “been something of an open secret that flossing has not been shown to prevent cavities or severe periodontal disease.”

Dentists are pushing back. The American Academy of Periodontology points out that the research doesn’t actually say flossing is a waste of time – it merely says the evidence is inconclusive. Its experts insist that clearing away plaque is good for your teeth, and they cite studies where flossing reduced the risk of gingivitis and bleeding gums.

Doing As We’re Told

The kerfuffle over flossing raises a larger point. Often we do things we think are good for us without stopping to question whether or not they really are. We do them because everyone says we should. After a while, they become habits.

So we munch on energy bars that contain more sugar than a Butterfinger, and we guzzle power drinks that have the nutritional value of a Coke. And why not? The picture on the package shows a lovely, sweating athlete. And everyone knows snacks from a health food store are better for you than candy.

Except sometimes they’re not.

3 Law Habits to Look At

Every day, you’re probably doing things that add little value to your law practice, and in fact may be diverting time and resources from more productive pursuits. Here are three takeaways:

  • Technology can be a trap. Some lawyers spend wads of money revamping their website, purchasing updated software or paying for online content because some tech expert at a seminar said they should. But do they really need it? Is the website attracting new business? Is the old software perfectly adequate? Is anyone reading the stuff posted online? Maybe the time and money spent on search engine optimization would be better spent on staff optimization, or on taking better care of current clients.
  • It’s not what you do, but how you do it. Flossing research reveals an interesting dichotomy. Irregular, lackadaisical flossing was not shown to have any measurable benefit. But regular, super-flossing – the kind that’s done by your dental hygienist – was shown to reduce cavities in children. The lesson: bringing purpose and energy to a task can make all the difference.
  • Some things are worth doing even if you can’t prove their value on a pie chart. It’s wise to treat your staff with courtesy and respect, take good care of your clients and strive for work-life balance. This is so even if you can’t demonstrate the tangible benefits in a PowerPoint presentation. They are the right things to do. They make life better, and that is all the proof you need.


The Dr. Oz Show

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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