No Dental Floss? No Problem: Evidence on Flossing's Benefits Is 'Weak'

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04 August, 2016

"Especially for us Portland people that don't have fluoride in our water", says Eilers, the best way to prevent periodontal disease and cavities "is brushing twice a day and flossing twice a day".

Or does it? A new investigation by the Associated Press suggests there's no good evidence backing up the claim that flossing is good for you.

According to a report by the Associated Press, there is little evidence that flossing actually works.

In its statement the ADA said: "Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can't reach".

As the AP story points out, the guidelines are required by law to be based on scientific evidence, and that's where the rubber met the road in the case of flossing.

The bottom line? While you may feel slightly betrayed by the lack of scientific evidence for flossing, you probably should keep doing it. The request was sent to the departments of Health and Human services and Agriculture.

The government's latest dietary guidelines do not include a recommendation to floss, a first since the USA first suggested flossing in 1979. Why?

More news: Texans star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins holding out of training camp

The AP checked out 25 studies done on flossing and dental care in the last decade, and it found the evidence behind it was pretty weak. It was also said that the studies carry a moderate to large bias potential.

One review conducted in 2015 said: "The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal". Most dentists said they will continue telling their patients about the benefits of flossing.

The latest Federal Dietary Guidelines no longer include flossing as a recommendation. "We need to improve health practices and make sure people understand something as easy as flossing can prevent a whole host of other dental issues for you as you age and grow up". Johnson & Johnson told the AP that floss helps remove plaque, but when the company was sent a list of contradicting studies, its spokesperson declined to comment.

Floss can even cause harm, with poor technique leading to damaged gums and teeth and also dislodging bad bacteria, which can lead to infections.

If done incorrectly, flossing can cause harm.

"It's like building a house and not painting two sides of it", he told AP.

Muscaro says he can see whether or not a patient flosses as soon as they open their mouth.


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