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Paper Monitor

14:29 UK time, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Been to the dentist lately? Or the hygienist for that matter? (Paper Monitor is now trying not to think of that noise - you know, the scrape of a metal hook on tooth enamel. Scrape scrape scrape...)

And did you get told off for insufficient or non-existent flossing?

Well, today's Times has news for you. Flossing is a waste of time.

With an appetising main course of factlets and figures ahead, the Times' flossing fan Helen Rumbelow lays out hors d'ouvers such as this anecdote:

According to Clint Eastwood's former partner Sondra Locke, in her book The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly, the Hollywood star would whisper, "Sweetie, did you floss?" as a prelude to sex.

For she has come across a dentist who hasn't flossed for 20 years. Why?

In all the reviews of flossing studies, no amount of flossing - daily, twice daily - has shown any reduction in your chances of tooth decay. There was only one exception: in which schoolchildren received a professional 15-minute flossing from a hygienist five days a week for nearly two years. "Self-flossing," researchers concluded, "failed to show an effect on tooth decay".

Said dentist has instead developed her own plan to combat tooth decay. Mouth wash and sweets.

Yes, sweets.

Not your common or garden jelly baby, oh no. Or even a modest handful of milk bottles.

But xylitol sweets. Made from birch.

Your humble correspondent expects sales of mouthwash and birch sweets to go through the roof among Times readers. Who then gargle and pop birch sweets religiously for a week or two, then get tired of it, and restart several days before their next dental appointment.

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