Did you read up on all of that news a while back that said that flossing was basically a pointless dental hygiene practice? We’re sure that you did. After all, dentists have been telling their patients year after year, and appointment after appointment to keep flossing regularly. But ever since the government’s department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture released their five-year guideline that removed flossing as a recommendation, more and more people have wondered what this all means.
So, what does research have to say about flossing? Here are some of the key features that were mentioned by various press sites:
Seeing that the government actually noted that not a lot of research had been done on their part about the benefits of flossing, the Associated Press (AP) took it upon themselves to look at previous research that had been published. In their findings, they found a study that had been conducted over the course of ten years, which looked at 25 cases. Research participants were split into two categories, where some were instructed to brush regularly without flossing, while the other group would floss in addition to regular brushing. The results showed that the benefits of flossing were very weak, and that past implications that flossing was helpful to oral health and hygiene were biased in some way.
What’s interesting is that another study done in 2011 was reviewed and was cited by noting that they actually saw that flossing is credited with small reductions in gum inflammation, which leads to gum disease. But the people who reviewed the study marked their findings as unreliable, claiming that the benefits of flossing are so minute that they’re basically insignificant.
Some dentists even took sides after the guidelines were released. Some emphasized the fact that on occasion, flossing can actually hurt more than help a person’s health. While this is really only prevalent in people with particularly weak immune systems, careless flossing has been linked to gum, dental work, and tooth damage. Additionally, flossing that leads to bleeding has the potential to lodge harmful bacteria into the bloodstream, which has the potential to cause infection.
Our advice? Keep flossing, and do so carefully. Even though evidence suggests otherwise, flossing is an extremely low-risk activity, and comes at an even lower cost. It’s better to be safe than sorry!