In its recent dietary guidelines for Americans, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services quietly dropped any mention of flossing. At the same time, the American Academy of Periodontology acknowledged that most of the current evidence in favor of flossing falls short because not enough randomized clinical trials have been conducted. Researchers have not been able to include enough participants or “examine gum health over a significant amount of time” to solidly prove the benefits of flossing.
However, the Dietary Guidelines have no bearing on the longstanding recommendation from the Surgeon General, the Center for Disease Control, and other health agencies to clean between teeth daily. In an August 2016 statement the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reaffirmed flossing as “an important oral hygiene practice.”
The American Dental Association has weighed in on the debate and stands by its recommendations for maintaining good oral health: brushing for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between teeth once a day with an interdental cleaner and visiting your dentist regularly.
It is widely believed that flossing helps prevent gum disease and cavities. Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line. More than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque; some are good and some are bad for your mouth. Together with food debris, water and other components, the plaque buildup around the teeth and on the gum line will contribute to disease in teeth and gums. Plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
So despite recent news reports, the bottom line is that a lack of strong evidence doesn’t equate to a lack of effectiveness. Experts seem to agree that it’s better to err on the side of caution and make flossing a regular part of your oral health routine.
Dr. Feucht and our dental hygienists at Plymouth Dentistry will answer your questions about flossing and will show you the proper technique for flossing to ensure that it is effective for you.
If you are looking for a dentist in the Troy and Birmingham area who utilizes the latest dental techniques and technology, be sure to check out Dr. Douglas Angell. Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. Be sure to visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.