According to a recent Associated Press report, there is a striking lack of evidence to show that daily flossing actually prevents gum disease and tooth decay.
The Federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion dropped flossing from their recommendation because the AP’s evidence showing flossing was linked to better oral health was weak.
While that is true, there weren’t a lot of studies to pull from, or good quality studies to begin with. This is due to the very stringent criteria. The best studies are randomized, controlled studies and are the most expensive to do. They can also take a very long time to complete.
So of course when the AP started looking for studies on this, they didn’t find any that fit into this category.
I’m sure you can find studies that show exercise is not necessary for weight control, but we all know that you should exercise to control your weight. That’s just common sense.
The problem I have with the AP reporting that flossing isn’t necessary for good oral health is that people who are already flossing are going to continue to do it because they know it works, but people who aren’t doing it – or aren’t doing it regularly – will be inclined not to floss and that is a huge risk.
Here are three reasons why flossing should be included in your daily oral regimen.
1. Flossing improves your oral health
Common sense should tell you, you shouldn’t leave stuff between your teeth. Just ask anyone who flosses. They know that it works and they don’t need a study to prove it. The evidence is in their oral health.
2. Flossing prevents cavities and gum disease.
The studies mentioned in the AP report only looked at the course of six months. But it takes time for the food left between your teeth to do its damage. When I see people leaving food between their teeth, I know that their problems are down the road. Whether it’s one year or two, it’s inevitable that not flossing will lead to a cavity or gum disease and this is a fact.
Over the years, my patients that have the least amount of problems with cavities or gum disease are either really good at flossing or really good at using a waterpik or toothpick. The best are good at both. This is anecdotal evidence, but I see it day in and day out. I’ve been seeing some patients for 20 years, so I’ve seen the long-term effects – whereas these studies have not. Flossing will help patients long-term.
3. Flossing poses no real threat to the mouth
The evidence that shows flossing is beneficial may be weak, but evidence that shows flossing is harmful is even weaker. If you think about it, the risk of actually buying floss and using it is small. It will cost you a few dollars and if it does nothing then you’ve only lost a few bucks. There is no risk in flossing your teeth if this new “finding” is true, but if it isn’t there’s a huge risk.
The point is, you want to continue to floss regardless of the AP’s findings. Floss the teeth that you want to keep. I will continue to say that. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.