Do You Really Need To Floss?
Is It Necessary To Floss Your Teeth?
YES! Enough said…now go watch a cat video. Despite recent breaking news, using dental floss is still recommended by probably every dentist on the planet.
Daily flossing has long been one of the most recommended tasks to maintain a healthy smile. According to the American Dental Association, flossing “is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.”
But where is the proof that being diligent with your daily dental flossing actually works to maintain healthy teeth & gums?
According to this CBS News article there is actually little evidence that using dental floss is effective at plaque removal.
Where Is The Proof That Flossing Is Effective?
As mentioned in the CBS News post, the federal government has recommended flossing since 1979, first in a surgeon general’s report and later in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued every five years.
But not this year!
Apparently these guidelines must be based on scientific evidence, under the law. Check out an excerpt from the article:
When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines this year, the flossing recommendation had been removed, without notice. In a letter to the Associated Press, the government acknowledged the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.
The AP looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade, focusing on 25 studies that generally compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrushes and floss. The findings? The evidence for flossing is “weak, very unreliable,” of “very low” quality, and carries “a moderate to large potential for bias.”
“The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal,” said one review conducted last year. Another 2015 review cites “inconsistent/weak evidence” for flossing and a “lack of efficacy.”
One study review in 2011 did credit floss with a slight reduction in gum inflammation – which can sometimes develop over time into full-fledged gum disease. However, the reviewers ranked the evidence as “very unreliable.” A commentary in a dental magazine stated that any benefit would be so minute it might not be noticed by users.
National Institutes of Health dentist Tim Iafolla acknowledged that if the highest standards of science were applied in keeping with the flossing reviews of the past decade, “then it would be appropriate to drop the floss guidelines.”
Regardless, he added, Americans should still floss.
“It’s low risk, low cost,” he said. “We know there’s a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it.”
Without regurgitating any more of the CBS story, nor delving into the politics of dietary guidelines as determined by the FDA…
As we can see and hear from the dentist interviewed in the video, we can all rest assured that using dental floss is better than not using dental floss.
But if you base your oral & overall health on what some federal government bureaucracy or sensational headline decrees, then by all means don’t floss.
After all you don’t have to floss all of our teeth…only the ones you want to keep!
What Does Dental Floss Do?
According to Dr. Glassman – the NYC dentist showcased in the video above, referencing the ADA – dental floss removes food trapped between the teeth, and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it has a chance to harden into plaque.
Flossing also helps remove debris and interproximal dental plaque, the plaque that forms between your teeth.
As the good Dr. Glassman puts it, you wouldn’t go get a car wash and only clean one side of your car.
Why would your teeth be any different?
Want A Healthy Smile?…You Better Sweat Your Flossing Technique
Let’s be honest, most people do not floss regularly even though they know they should. But flossing is an integral part of any diligent daily dental hygiene regimen.
Brushing alone is not able to remove the bacteria and food debris that builds up between and around your teeth.
And in order for your flossing to be effective..it’s all in the technique. More specifically, in order for your flossing to accomplish the goal of cleaning between your teeth, you must employ the C-effect, check out this video for a lesson!
What Happens When You Don’t Floss?
When you follow headlines instead of professional recommendations, you run the risk of adversely affecting not only your oral health, but your overall health as well.
If you don’t floss, your gums will bleed and your chances for developing tooth decay (cavities) will increase.
To CBS’s credit, they take the headline and flip the script by having a professional talk about how important it is to floss every day.
So when you see more headlines like this in the future, don’t believe the hype!
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This post originally appeared on Dental Patient News and has been republished with permission.