Anyone who has ever visited a dentist has more than likely heard that flossing is an important part of oral care. However, a new study revealed by the media indicates that there’s no proof that flossing actually works. This news comes as a shock to most who have been under the impression that flossing is good since it was first recommended by the American Dental Association in 1908, when floss was first invented. Should families stop flossing? Not necessarily.
The U.S. Department of Health
According to the U.S. Department of Health, statements suggesting that flossing is good for oral care have never actually been researched. The federal government has even gone as far as to remove flossing from its dietary guidelines completely. The removal of this recommendation comes after findings that previous studies were low quality and done with a potential bias. This means that the real beneficiaries of this health craze are floss manufacturers.
Risks of Flossing
While experts still say the risks are low, studies indicate that flossing may actually damage gums and teeth. Further health problems can develop if bad bacteria becomes dislodged and enters the bloodstream through a small cut in the gums. These bad bacteria, once in the bloodstream, can travel to the heart and increase the risk of heart disease. While people who floss regularly generally have better oral hygiene, researchers suggest that this may not be because of flossing itself but because people who take the time to floss simply have better oral habits. This may be as simple as brushing more than once a day and a using a fluoride rinse.
Don’t Give Up on Flossing Just Yet
Despite these recent findings, the U.S. National Institute of Health says that people don’t have to give up flossing. Most of the concerns or risks related to flossing come from improper flossing techniques. In general, flossing is seen as a low-cost, low-risk activity. There’s a possibility that it does work, which means they still feel comfortable telling people to continue flossing. When flossing properly, it stimulates the gums. Dentists suggest that people avoid doing a sawing motion when flossing because it can cut into the gums. Instead, do an up-and-down motion.
In general, people should still follow the guidelines set for them by their family dental care provider. Many dental associations say that they will still recommend that people over the age of 11 continue to floss regularly. They stand behind the idea that a lack of evidence to back up the benefits of flossing doesn’t necessarily negate its effectiveness.