According to a recent Associated Press (AP) report, there is a striking lack of evidence to show that daily flossing actually prevents gum disease and tooth decay.
As a result, the Federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has dropped flossing from its recommended oral hygiene practices. This is in large part because all federal recommendations must be backed by strong scientific evidence.
After years of hearing that flossing should be a part of your daily routine, it may be confusing to hear this news. However, don’t quit flossing just yet.
While the AP is correct in its findings – the evidence is weak – that is only because there are not a lot of high-quality studies to pull from. Many of the studies available look only at patient’s oral health over a 6-month period. Yet, the negative effects of leaving food between your teeth may not appear for two years.
The problem I have with the AP reporting that flossing isn’t necessary for good oral health is that people who aren’t doing it – or aren’t doing it regularly – will be inclined not to floss and that is a huge risk. Below are three reasons you should keep flossing, regardless of the recent headlines:
1. There is no risk in flossing your teeth
While there isn’t strong evidence showing flossing is beneficial, there is no evidence that proves flossing is harmful. If you think about it, there’s virtually no risk in buying floss and using it. If these findings are correct, all you are losing is the few dollars you spent on floss. However, if they are incorrect, your oral health will be in jeopardy.
2. Anecdotally, flossing prevents cavities and gum disease
Over the years, my patients who have the fewest problems with cavities or gum disease are either really good at flossing or regularly use a waterpik or toothpick. The best are good at both. This is anecdotal evidence, but it’s something that I see every day. Some of my patients have been coming to me for 20 years, so I’ve witnessed the long-term effects of flossing – whereas the studies cited by the AP have not.
3. Flossing prevents bad breath
All the buildup from leaving food between your teeth is not only detrimental to your oral health, but it can cause bad breath. Eliminating that buildup by flossing improves your breath because it removes the food between your teeth. This should be reason enough to keep flossing.
Regardless of the recent news headlines, I highly recommend that you keep flossing. Like any good dentist would say, “only floss the teeth that you want to keep.”
If it’s been a few years since you’ve flossed, it’s never too late for a check up. Call us today to schedule a cleaning.