Dentists, concerned parents, and floss companies alike have told us forever that we’re not flossing enough.
The American Dental Association website tells us, “Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” And, the government has recommended flossing since 1979, first in a surgeon’s report and then in regular Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
We’ll be the first to admit that every time we go to the dentist, we pretend we’ve been flossing every day twice a day, when really, it’s just whenever we feel guilty. Luckily for those of us who have been lying to the dentist for the past couple of decades, research shows that there is actually little health benefit to flossing.
According to the Guardian, the Associated Press “looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade, focusing on 25 studies that generally compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrushes and floss. [They found that the] evidence for flossing is “weak, very unreliable”, of “very low” quality, and carries ‘a moderate to large potential for bias’.”
Supposedly, flossing does little to remove plaque. While the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology both cited studies that showed that flossing reduced risks of tooth decay, plaque, and gingivitis, but most of these studies used faulty research techniques.
One study only lasted two weeks, for example, while another used the small sample size of 25 people.
Of course, it’s not really that difficult to floss. Many health specialists still recommend that you do it because it could reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Still, we feel a huge sense of relief at not being the worst dental patients out there anymore.