The Feds Say: No More Flossing?
You may have been surprised to catch the news last week from the federal government saying — gasp! — we’ve all been wasting our time all these years flossing. It’s been a mantra since childhood, one that we pass on to our children as well: brush and floss every day. Well, if you believe the federal government, they say there’s no conclusive proof that flossing works — even though the feds, along with dental organizations and floss manufacturers, have been touting this practice since 1979.
This year, though, the flossing recommendation that’s always been a part of the federal government’s annual dietary guidelines was conspicuously missing. They were challenged to show proof that flossing is indeed effective in overall oral hygiene, they did the research, and they couldn’t prove anything via scientific evidence. The studies in question were comprised of about 25 studies over the past 10 years, with results finding “weak” and “unreliable” evidence for flossing, specifically in the area of plaque removal. Although one study found that flossing resulted in a slight reduction in gum inflammation, it wasn’t enough to keep the flossing recommendation in this year’s guidelines.
This has shocked the general public in the sense that most of us have grown up with the direction to “floss or else.” Now, researchers are saying it’s OK to ditch the floss? What’s next — no more brushing? Well, not exactly. The feds aren’t saying no one should floss anymore. They simply took out the recommendation from their guidelines and chose to focus on nutrition instead.
The Other Side of the Story
All that being said, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology still stand behind the need for flossing every day. They fought back with their own studies that show flossing prevents buildup of plaque, gingivitis, and tooth decay. The leader of the American Academy of Periodontology says not flossing is like not painting two sides of a house. Over time, those two sides will rot away more quickly than the others, according to quotes cited in the AP.
This same leader said the impact of flossing may be stronger if the researchers had focused on those who have the highest risk of gum disease: smokers and diabetics. In short, these two groups still tout the efficacy of flossing in an effort to lessen the risk of gum disease on all patients. Bottom line is the ADA and other groups maintain that flossing is an important oral hygiene practice, as tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque builds up on teeth and along the gum line. You should still engage in professional cleaning, tooth brushing, and flossing to get rid of this harmful plaque. This is especially important when it comes to children’s dentistry.
Some Reminders on Flossing
Your dentist can advise you on oral hygiene practices because he or she knows your oral health status and health history. Work with your dentist to come up with a schedule for flossing and brushing that works for you and your specific oral health needs. Here are a few reminders about how to floss for the best results:
- Floss at least once a day, after brushing
- Use about 18 inches of floss
- Wind it around each middle finger
- Hold it between your thumbs and forefingers
- Gently rub the floss between teeth
- Curve the floss into a C shape when you hit the gum line
Contact Metroplex Implants and Family Dentistry
As your dental specialists in Dallas, we encourage you to keep up with your regular brushing and flossing routine. To learn more about why, contact us at 972-734-1772.