Dental Research

The Great Flossing Debate of 2016.

August 10, 2016

Flossing has become a topic of some debate lately, thanks to an Associated Press (AP) piece published in early August. According to the AP investigation, there is little evidence that flossing actually works as advertised to prevent gum disease and cavities.

Flossing has always come highly recommended for its many health benefits—including a recommendation by the federal government, in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued every five years. By law, such claims in federal guidelines must be supported by scientific evidence.

The AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request for that supporting evidence and received a letter acknowledging that the alleged benefits of flossing had never been properly researched. Following up with an investigation of what research does exist on the topic, the AP found that there was little evidence to back up the claims. This year’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans did not include a reference to flossing.

Not everyone agrees, of course. Many dentists still recommend flossing to remove debris and plaque in hard-to-reach areas between teeth. But the AP report may have given everyone a reason to re-examine what was once taken as a given: that flossing should be an essential part of everyone’s daily oral health routine.

Read the full Associated Press piece HERE.

Read part two of this blog series: The great flossing debate of 2016: dentists respond.