As many of you have heard, the US government removed flossing from its 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. Dr. Miller, Rhonda, Tammy, and I would like to urge you to continue to floss once a day as part of your oral hygiene routine. Every day we see the benefits of flossing and I hope this short post will shed some light on why this important practice was removed from their guidelines.
In a letter to the Associated Press, the government acknowledged that a requirement of the recommendation must be based on scientific evidence under the law, although the effectiveness of flossing had never been the subject of formal research. The AP looked at the research over the past decade and determined that the evidence for flossing was weak and had a high potential for bias because of the small number of study participants. Large-scale, long-term studies are expensive and have not been done to verify what dentists and hygienists already know to be true.
Dentists have extrapolated from short-term studies that have shown that the buildup of plaque and inflammation that occurs when patients do not floss can – and does – lead to an increase in cavities and gum disease.
Accumulation of plaque can cause an inflammatory response of the gums that leads to gingivitis. If this is not treated by routine appointments with the hygienist, it can lead to periodontal disease.Untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and increased risk for other systemic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.
In conclusion, the absence of long-term study evidence is not proof that flossing has no benefit, especially when there has been little effort to obtain high-quality evidence.
Has this piqued your curiosity? Check out the American Dental Association’s response to anti-flossing claims here: http://bit.ly/ADAFlossResponse.
by Lynette Page, DDS, FAGD