*Image courtesy of 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Generally every dentist advises their patients to floss, and had done so for decades. However, the Associated Press shook up this conventional wisdom last month with a report that said the evidence behind flossing’s effectiveness has not been reliable.
While social media exploded with consumers expressing joy in believing that they don’t need to floss anymore, prominent dental associations countered with support for the practice. The ADA issued a statement reiterating its view that interdental cleaners such as floss are essential to oral health. The organization noted that cleaning between teeth removes plaque and debris from areas where brushes don’t reach, decreasing the risks of gum disease and tooth decay. The ADA also said that these tools require proper techniques to be effective, though, so dentists may need to teach their patients how to floss correctly.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) also issued a statement recommending daily flossing as part of regular oral hygiene. The AAP said that accumulated plaque bacteria beneath the gumline may cause an inflammatory response that could lead to gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth loss, and even other systemic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, the AAP said that periodontal disease develops slowly and is caused by multiple factors, so studies examining flossing’s efficacy need to be conducted throughout a number of years and among a large population.