Is flossing just a big lie? Review finds no evidence that it keeps your teeth clean

Most of the studies reviewed used outdated methods or tested too few people
Is flossing just a big lie? Review finds no evidence that it keeps your teeth clean
Is flossing just a big lie? Review finds no evidence that it keeps your teeth clean
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The famous slogan “Brush, Floss, Rinse, Repeat” might have to be modified. If a review of research by the Associated Press is to be believed, dental hygiene freaks can simply bypass the “floss law” since it may be just a pile of gunk.

The current version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently struck off the “floss your teeth daily” guideline following a freedom of information query from AP for scientific evidence for the guideline.

Following this, AP conducted a review of 25 studies that compared using just a toothbrush versus a toothbrush combined with floss and found that the evidence in favour of flossing is "weak, very unreliable," and of "very low" quality.

Investigative journalist Jeff Donn said: “Most of these studies used outdated methods or tested few people.”

He added, “Some lasted only two weeks, far too brief for a cavity or dental disease to develop. One tested 25 people after only a single use of floss."

Professor Damien Walmsley, the British Dental Association’s scientific adviser confirmed floss might not be that effective after all, reported

He said: “Small inter-dental brushes are preferable for cleaning the area in between the teeth, where there is space to do so. Floss is of little value unless the spaces between your teeth are too tight for the inter-dental brushes to fit without hurting or causing harm."

However, other dental experts still maintain that one should floss and spare the fork or the toothpick.

"Our position is that flossing is still good," Robert Wergin, MD, board chair and immediate past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians told Medscape;

 "There's not much of a downside. Cleaning between the teeth is an important part of oral health, and good oral health is part of total health."

Dr. Brian Schuman/Vermont Dental Society said that there is a misconception about there being no science behind flossing. “The reality is flossing is critical to long-term periodontal health and to prevent cavities. The problem with the studies is nobody wants to fund them to show that's a huge factor.”

Schuman added, “If you're not flossing, you're missing 50 percent of your teeth because brushing doesn't get in between teeth.” It’s only that the studies just haven't been done for a long enough period to show the impact, he said.

It seems the jury is out on that question, until long-term studies actually prove it one way or another.  But no one’s doubting the brushing twice a day rule. So there’s at least one rule for you to stick to.

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