Following a 2016 decision where the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services removed flossing as a recommended practice for dental care, questions arose on whether it is necessary, or even helpful, to floss between teeth.
Research reviewed by the Associated Press called into question the positive effects of flossing teeth. The AP referenced a letter sent to them by the government that said “the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required” prompting flossing to be taken off the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which bases its guidelines off of scientific evidence.
So, Do I Need to Floss?
Despite the government move, most dentists maintain that flossing is an effective way to clean in between teeth and prevent gum disease.
The American Academy of Periodontology, a leading dental organization that promotes healthy practices to prevent periodontal diseases, maintains that flossing is an “integral part of a comprehensive oral health routine.”
The organization’s president at the time, Dr. Wayne Aldredge, said that gum disease is caused by prolonged exposure to bacteria in dental plaque, which can be reduced through regular flossing.
“Gum disease is typically caused when prolonged exposure to bacteria in dental plaque causes an inflammatory reaction,” he said. “Flossing is an effective and useful way to remove the plaque, especially in between the teeth or under the gum line-places where a toothbrush cannot reach.”
In addition to the AAP, the American Dental Association and the European Federation of Periodontology also defending the effectiveness of flossing. The EFP said that a 2014 workshop held by the organization concluded that daily cleaning between the teeth is “essential to maintain gum health.”
The ADA also supported flossing, saying that interdental cleaning helps to remove debris that can cause plaque buildup.
“Flossing is an important oral hygiene practice. Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line,” the ADA said in a statement. “Professional cleaning, tooth brushing, and cleaning between teeth (flossing and the use of other tools such as interdental brushes) have been shown to disrupt and remove plaque.”
The Answer is YES!
While the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services may not have conducted the proper research to keep flossing on the list of recommended dietary guidelines, the majority of dental professionals remain united in their support for flossing, as the practice has no harmful effects to teeth or gums and can help remove debris that could lead to periodontal diseases.