Recently there have been numerous articles published online or in print questioning the validly of flossing as an important part of one’s dental health routine. The main thrust of these articles is that there is no quality research to back up the fact that brushing and flossing together are more effective for plaque removal than brushing alone. In fact, the US Department of Health immediately jumped on board and took flossing out of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. Whether or not studies have been performed to determine the efficacy of flossing is not the issue at hand. The fact is that flossing can get to plaque in places a toothbrush can’t. Consider some of the problems with a blanket statement dismissing flossing due to the 25 studies that were peer-reviewed.
A “LACK OF EXISTING PROOF” IS DIFFERENT FROM “IT DOESN’T WORK”
The American Academy of Periodontology admits that more studies could be done. However, a toothbrush simply cannot remove plaque below the gumline. If flossing does, that means flossing is an essential part of oral care. They also noted that those studies do not sample a significant amount of the population and were not designed to measure periodontal health.
In other words, the studies used to say that flossing doesn’t work paid no attention to things such as inflammation of the gums or clinical attachment loss. These are the true indicators of gum health and whether or not plaque below the gumline is being removed.
In short, it’s unfair to say flossing doesn’t do anything by looking at a bunch of studies that weren’t really looking at the evidence of the effectiveness of flossing. In other words, don’t stop flossing simply because there isn’t a study specifically proving it works. It’s not worth stopping and potentially damaging your gum health while waiting for such a study to be performed.
WEIGHING IN ON THE ISSUE
Water flossing companies are taking advantage of the study to promote their own product over traditional flossing saying that water flossers are still important for cleaning between the teeth while string flossing seems to have no benefits. If you’d rather use a Water Pik than standard floss, that’s fine. Just don’t throw flossing out the window.
Personally, I’d rather my patients continue to floss. Your healthy teeth can be the proof that flossing works. I’d rather check healthy teeth all day than perform root canals.