dental floss

Yes, Flossing Matters

dental flossRemember last year when the internet went crazy over the “news” that you don’t need to floss?

The reality wasn’t nearly so interesting. No one actually said, “Don’t floss.” The USDA and HHS merely dropped it from their latest guidelines. It was reported that there just wasn’t enough good evidence to support flossing.

But as the National Dental Association then noted,

Omission in the dietary guidelines should not imply reversal of long standing recommendations from the Surgeon General, Center for Disease Control (CDC), HHS and oral health professionals. Oral health providers have consistently seen the positive effects of this tool as an aide in establishing good oral hygiene.

To maintain good oral health, the National Dental Association (NDA) continues to recommend flossing as an important part of a regular oral hygiene routine….

As does every other dental association.

For one, we consistently see it in practice: Regular interdental cleaning – whether with floss, proxy brushes, oral irrigators, or some combination of these – does help reduce gum disease.

More and more research backs this up, as well. As a paper published earlier this year noted,

In adults, systematic reviews of interdental brushing/flossing for the management of periodontal diseases and dental caries have shown some evidence that interdental flossing/brushing in addition to toothbrushing reduces gingivitis compared to toothbrushing alone.

Just last month, new research in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found that even flossing a few times a week may help as much as more frequent flossing. Of the nearly 7000 adults included in the study,

35% flossed ≤1 time a week and 40% had periodontitis. After adjustment, the odds of periodontitis were 17% lower for subjects who flossed >1 time a week than for subjects who flossed less often…. A dose response was not observed.

Flossing has been a common practice for nearly 200 years, and interdental cleaning has been done for thousands. It’s not something new; it’s something necessary.

Think of it this way: Brushing cleans only about 60% of your total tooth surface area. If you had dirty hands and washed only 60% of them, would you still consider them clean?