by Dr. Peter Mann September 5, 2016 | Oral Hygiene

An A.P. Article suggests weak evidence for flossing. Should you be flossing?

Last month the Associated Press (A.P.) released a report stating there’s “weak evidence” in regards to the importance of flossing.  This report has reached every major news outlet and exploded on the social media outlets.  Patients have been asking their dentists if they should continue flossing.

An Associated Press Reporter Jeff Donn decided to investigate the research behind flossing.  He contacted the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to request data to back up the need to floss.  Donn received a response stating that they haven’t done any research on flossing and that it was just a “general public health recommendation.”   Later, the HHS established new guidelines that did not include the recommendation to floss. This update to the guidelines was the reason for Donn to publish his article.

In his report, Donn claims that he looked at 25 studies on flossing.  Many of the studies contained either “unreliable data” or showed a “weak amount of evidence.”  They also “contained a large bias” since they were funded by the manufacturers of these dental products.

While Donn is partly correct, the studies conducted on flossing are weak and biased because they’re often sponsored by the manufacturer.  Some things are so clear that a multi-million dollar study lasting several years doesn’t need to be conducted.  And no one is willing to pay for such a study.  Do we need a study to tell us that a bungee cord is a good idea when going bungee jumping?  It’s not debatable that plaque accumulation around gums leads to inflammation (aka gingivitis.)  Dentists all over the world see proof of it every day. But we don’t have the best ten million dollar study to prove without a shadow of a doubt flossing prevents gum disease.   Dentists all over the world and patients who start flossing see results of improved gum health and reduced inflammation.

An unknown dentist once said, “floss only the teeth you want to keep.”

As part of a healthy life style.  Dentists still recommend brushing and flossing twice a day.  Coming in for routine check-up and cleaning twice a year is also advised.  If you would like to keep your teeth shinning bright a zoom whitening procedure is recommended.

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