Ok folks, it’s time to tackle the age old topic of flossing. As a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist, we all secretly hoped flossing would make it to mainstream media, just not in this way! Recently, the Associated Press published an article throwing shade at flossing. If you haven’t had the chance to read it, here’s the gist:
Sorry Associated Press, Flossing is here to stay!
Last year, the Associated Press asked the departments of Health & Human Services, and Agriculture to provide publication with evidence that flossing works. Then flossing was removed from the federal dietary guidelines, which sparked the Associated Press’ attention to dig up some available research. There were roughly 25 studies reviewed, that compared the effects of brushing alone vs. brushing and flossing. After reviewing these articles the AP concluded that the research used to recommend flossing did not meet the criteria that the Department of Health & Human Services requires to establish a recommendation into its Dietary Guidelines. According to the AP, the studies suffered from small sample sizes, and short durations.
So the basic takeaway from the public was “YES!!! Finally, I never have to floss again!”
Let me start by saying, there is absolutely no evidence, nor study, nor dentist that would ever claim that flossing is harmful. Bottom line, flossing is cheap. So very few research corporations, or companies want to spend the time, money and resources on a study that will make such little profit! This is why the few studies we DO have regarding flossing tend to be short and small in sample size! However, the conclusion most studies draw is that even with limited data, the potential benefits of flossing outweighs the risks.
The other thing that must be pointed out is that flossing isn’t just about throwing a stick of string between the teeth, and moving on. I prefer parents use string floss to help their kids floss properly. Kids can practice on their own with the sticks, but an adult needs to assist in PROPER flossing. This means that the string floss is wrapping a “c” shape around each side of the tooth and below the gumline.
But perhaps the most disheartening thing about the AP article, is just how colluded it makes all dentists sound. As if we have private meetings with companies like Proctor & Gamble who fund these studies and sell floss. The general public could read the article, and get the false impression that dentists give out floss because we want to make more money! When in fact, we make more money if we stopped handing out floss! The obvious reason we give you floss, is because we are convinced it helps!
Each of your teeth has 6 surfaces. Unless you are like Keith, our little monster, most people don’t have gaps between every tooth.
Your toothbrush can only thoroughly clean 4 out of every 6 surfaces. That’s only 60%! Additionally, teeth do not stop above the gumline. There are still several millimeters of space for plaque and germs to accumulate under the gums. Not flossing is like changing a baby’s diaper without the wipes!
Bottom line, use whatever you want, flossers, string floss, water pik, but please keep those teeth and gums clean! If you have more questions, please call The Brush Stop Pediatric Dentistry at 760-635-5995.