The first week of August, the news was inundated with a story about flossing. In case you missed it, the article stated that the medical benefits of flossing had been unproven. As a result, flossing was removed from the government’s latest dietary guidelines. Many different studies were cited, and the results can be boiled down to the following: “The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal.” We respectfully disagree. Flossing is a very important component of proper oral hygiene! Here’s why you need to keep flossing.
Flossing affects longevity
Flossing can actually help you live longer! We all know that oral and heart disease are closely linked: an unhealthy mouth is going to negatively affect cardiovascular health. Flossing is actually recommended by the geriatrician who created the Living to 100 Life Expectancy calculator.
The Leisure World Cohort Study also determined that flossing affected longevity. After following over 5,600 older adults for a decade, they found that adults who didn’t floss had a 25% – 29% higher risk of death than those that did floss.
Flossing helps with bad breath
Every time we eat, food particles get stuck between our teeth. And the best brushing in the world will never remove it all. If the food isn’t removed, it begins to decay. There are thousands of bacteria in our mouths, and when we leave food between our teeth, we’re just leaving them lunch! When certain bacteria eat, they also produce noxious gases. Between the two, a person’s breath could get pretty nasty.
The original story is misleading
The story doesn’t say that flossing has no benefits, merely that the evidence supporting those benefits is based on poor-quality studies. The argument being that basically, because the studies that support flossing were not “high quality”, their results can be ignored. The Cochrane review (a source that reviewed the studies) actually recommends flossing, and states: “There is some evidence from 12 studies that flossing in addition to toothbrushing reduces gingivitis compared to toothbrushing alone.”
Flossing is still very important. You can use traditional floss, a water flosser, an interdental brush, or a floss pick, as long as you’re flossing! Although we recommend regular floss, anything is better than nothing at all. Only using mouthwash isn’t going to cut it. If you don’t know how to floss properly, or have more questions, call Dr. Chauvin’s office! We’ll be happy to show you the right way to floss!