Flossing may not actually have any proven medical benefits
We’re told to floss daily from an early age, in order to prevent gum disease and cavities. But according to a new investigation, there’s little evidence that flossing actually works.
The Associated Press (AP) has conducted an investigation into flossing and looked at data from 25 studies conducted over the past decade. The studies typically compared the use of a toothbrush alone with the combined used of a toothbrush and floss. In summary it was concluded the evidence for flossing is "weak, very unreliable," of "very low" quality, and carries "a moderate to large potential for bias." The findings contradict the accepted advice on dental health with practitioners, floss manufacturers and other organisations urging people to floss.
Now, the AP is questioning whether the U.S. government’s guidelines on flossing, as per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are based on scientific evidence, and whether they need to be revised. The scientific evidence for flossing is weak, said Dr. Wayne Aldredge, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). However, he told the AP the benefits of flossing might be clearer if studies focused on people with the highest risk of gum disease, such as smokers and diabetics. He still encourages his patients to floss, but in the correct matter up and down the sides of teeth and not in a sawing motion.
And a leading British dentist has also added that there is only “weak evidence” that flossing is helpful.
Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, is among the skeptics.
"It's important to tell people to do the basics. Flossing is not part of the basics,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Public Health England spokesperson has said the organisation “will consider these findings”.
Currently, the National Health Service (NHS) advises people that they should floss on their dentist’s advice.
“Dental floss helps to prevent gum disease by getting rid of pieces of food and plaque from between your teeth,” the website says.