Unfortunately in 2016, the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines dropped the recommendation for people to floss on a daily basis. This move wasn’t because of any new research refuting its benefit, but rather the fact that existing research did meet standards for “proof” of benefit.
I wholeheartedly disagree with this action.
Flossing research, in general, is hard to examine. Many of the flossing studies are short-term, covering up to 6-months. Flossing along with regular tooth-brushing does indeed lower the risk of gum disease, however bone loss from cavities or infection takes longer to develop. So, it’s unclear — at least from a research standpoint — if flossing can help with these problems.
The bottom line is flossing is a low-cost, low-maintenance way to clear food and plaque from between teeth and under the gum line. If you don’t remove these particles, plaque will harden and turn into tarter. Tarter, in turn, forms wedges and widens the space between teeth and gums, causing pockets. Over time, gums pull away and teeth loosen.
The American Dental Association, along with myself, endorse daily flossing. The long-term benefits may be unproven, and more definitive proof still may be years away.
If you have trouble with traditional floss, try inter-dental brushes, which are easier to hold and use. You can find them at most groceries and drugstores. Your hygienist at my office can also give you an easy lesson on how to floss at your next routine dental check up.
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