Research shows that flossing may not be all it’s cracked up to be, but is stopping really worth the risk?

Many of us have been told that we should floss on a regular daily to have healthy gums and teeth.  Flossing is said to be a key aspect of preventing gum disease and cavities, but recently the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have recently stopped mentioning it in their guidelines. Which led many to question the value of flossing. So, what’s the truth about flossing? Our dentist in Lawrence is here to help you unravel the latest evidence.

Studies – Then and Now

Previous studies have claimed that flossing helps to prevent gum disease and dental decay, however, many of these studies evaluated the effects of flossing on a short term basis and did not study the long term health effects of flossing. Recent analysis of studies that have been done show that the evidence is not strong for the benefits of flossing. Press coverage has brought to light the lack of evidence that supports the theory that flossing helps to improve oral health, leading many to believe that flossing is no longer necessary at all. However, though the evidence for the benefits of flossing is not significant, there is indeed some evidence that flossing does help to prevent gingivitis and since gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, which is another word for bone loss, it may not be evidence that you want to ignore. Given that there are no negative effects from flossing and the cost of this daily home care task is minimal, even a small improvement in oral health is helpful.

Additionally, many dentists have questioned how thoroughly participants in these studies actually floss. People who do floss at home tend to do a poorer job than when the dentists or oral hygienist flosses for them. In a review of six trials over two years, kids whose teeth were flossed by professionals saw 40 percent decrease in their risk of cavities.

So, what’s the deal? Should you floss or not?

While the evidence that flossing enhances oral health and prevent gum disease and decay may be minimal, it isn’t nonexistent. The fact of the matter is that it only takes a few minutes out of your day to floss, and if those few minutes could make a difference in your oral health, then why wouldn’t you want to make flossing a part of your daily oral health care routine?