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Home Home Oral Health Is All That Flossing Really Worth It?
Is All That Flossing Really Worth It?
News - WebMD Oral Health
Jupiter, FL Dentist

TUESDAY, Aug. 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Your mom told you to floss from an early age, and you try your best to keep up the habit because it saves gums and teeth.

Or does it? A new investigation by the Associated Press suggests there's no good evidence backing up the claim that flossing is good for you.

The AP looked at data from 25 studies conducted over the past decade. The studies generally compared the use of a toothbrush alone with combined use of a toothbrush and floss.

Those studies concluded the evidence for flossing is "weak, very unreliable," of "very low" quality, and carries "a moderate to large potential for bias."

One review went further, saying that the "majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal," the AP reported. Another said there was only "inconsistent/weak evidence" for flossing and a "lack of efficacy."

The findings fly in the face of accepted wisdom on dental health. For decades, dental groups, floss manufacturers and other organizations have urged people to floss. And since 1979, the U.S. government has recommended flossing, first in a surgeon general's report and then in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released every five years.

However, under the law, those guidelines must be based on scientific evidence, according to the AP.

But after the AP asked for evidence, the federal government admitted there was no research supporting the effectiveness of flossing, the news agency said.

The scientific evidence for flossing is weak, said Dr. Wayne Aldredge, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). However, he told the AP the benefits of flossing might be clearer if studies focused on people with the highest risk of gum disease, such as smokers and diabetics.

Aldredge said he still encourages his patients to floss. But he thinks many people don't floss correctly, because they move the floss in a sawing motion instead of up and down the sides of their teeth.

When asked about the AAP's promotion of flossing, Aldredge told the AP that the periodontal group may simply have followed the lead of the American Dental Association (ADA), which has recommended flossing since 1908.

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