Is flossing teeth regularly really needed?

Lady flossing her teeth

Last year, the Associated Press asked the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for their evidence that flossing teeth regular is proven to be beneficial, and followed up with written requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

What is strange, when the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines this year, the flossing recommendation had been removed, without notice. In a letter to the AP, the government acknowledged the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.

So is flossing really needed? Dentists say it is. The American Dental Association awards flossing companies their “Seal of Acceptance” through a program where companies pay $13,500 for an evaluation of a product, then $3500 annually to be able to use the seal. Hmmmm.

Flossing companies bring in 2 billion dollars a year, half of that from US purchasers. That is a lot of money.

Our recommendation is – keep flossing. Flossing obviously removes food particles left after brushing. It is easy to prove this by brushing first, then flossing! And it is easy to see how floss can get in between your teeth where your brushing cannot.

This does bring up some very good questions about the ethics of marketing and the power of huge groups like the ADA to swing buyer opinion and purchases.

As dentists, this is not our job. Our job is to keep your teeth in your mouth, healthy and clean, and to help with problems when they occur.

We stand by our belief that proper brushing twice a day, with flossing once a day, and annual visits to check for unseen issues are the best prevention and maintenance possible for your teeth and gums.

Whether or not flossing teeth regularly has been thoroughly tested and proven by teams of researches and scientists (who seem to get things wrong sometimes anyway!) is neither here nor there for us. We know from our practice that removal of plaque, and leftover food that holds the bacteria leading to gum disease has to be beneficial. If you have any questions – ask us during your next visit!

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