Over the last several months we have been called into question about the efficacy of flossing. This awareness comes to light after the U.S. government removed flossing from their Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The U.S. department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made their decision citing “weak evidence” for flossing being beneficial. This is based on a review of 25 studies that were completed within the last ten years.
Shortly after this news broke out, another story emerged in the media about a Canadian study that found hypersensitivity (allergy) to the material used on the waxed floss. This was based on four subjects who had existing dermatological issues/allergies. Although they all had impeccable oral self-care routines, including flossing, their periodontal (gum) health did no improve. Interestingly, when they removed flossing from their routine and replaced it with a different (interproximal) dental aid, their conditions improved. This study did not dismiss flossing or the effectiveness of plaque removal from in between the teeth. It only highlighted the possible allergic reaction to the material used on waxed floss.
Since the two stories started to circulate in the media, we have had numerous clients ask us about flossing and what our professional opinion was. We have had comments such as “I am not flossing anymore! I hear it’s bad for you.” to “I know flossing is working for me, I can tell the difference in my gums.” Although the act of flossing may be questionable to some, we agree (along with other dental professionals across the board) that removing plaque and food debris away from your teeth and gums is effective in preventing cavities and gum disease. We see this clinically on a regular basis.
If flossing is not a “thing” for you, there are other alternatives to flossing that will safely remove plaque from in between your teeth. Some of these include toothpick-type products (Stimudents, Soft Picks, Rubber Tip Simulator), interdental brushes (Proxy Brush, Sulcabrush) as well as mechanical devices (Waterpik and Air Flosser). There are many more, but these are but a few examples.
It is always best to research and speak to your dental professional on recommendations and the proper use of dental products that is best suited for your needs in maintaining good oral health. The bottom line is that you always want to remove plaque and food debris from all teeth surfaces to reduce the incidence of cavities and gum disease through effective brushing, flossing and/or interdental aids.
By Momoko Noguchi, Hygienist