Anyone who has frequented a dentist’s office at all in the last 3+ decades knows exactly the questions they are going to hear from their dentist. The most notable and probably most guilt-inducing question is whether or not we are flossing regularly. We all know that we need to floss, but still we seem to never have time for the extra step towards our dental health. New studies just released are now bringing to the forefront of the oral health conversation the actual benefits of flossing, and if there are any at all.
A recent study released August 2, 2016 discusses the studies that have been done on flossing. The U.S. Department of Health’s Dietary Guidelines and for the first time since 1979, no mention was made about flossing in the daily health routine.
Benefits of flossing have long been emphasized as the best and most efficient way to avoid plaque buildup, keep breath fresh, and have healthy teeth and gums. According to researchers though, the studies that have been done on the benefits of flossing are unreliable and do not show enough evidence to suggest that flossing has any real benefit at all in regards to keeping gingivitis and tooth decay at bay. One study showed that children who were exposed to daily flossing by a dental hygienist did in fact benefit from a 40% reduction in tooth decay, while those who flossed and brushed their teeth at home saw no such benefits. These studies have proven inconclusive though because the controls in place were not efficient to show where the source of these benefits came from. Was it the technique of the dental hygienist? Was it the fluoride these children who visited a hygienist daily were most likely exposed to? The studies simply were not thorough enough to say with any certainty if flossing is in fact what made the difference. Other studies simply did not have the funding to accomplish the in depth study and passing of time needed to understand the benefits (or nonexistent benefits) of flossing.
There are still other alternatives to use whether you want to forgo flossing all together or not. Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables has a natural brushing affect on teeth, scrubbing away film and bacteria that may be lurking about. Chewing sugar free gum after a meal is also a very effective way to rid the mouth of acidic foods which can create a sour smell in one’s mouth. And though it may be a shock that flossing may be omitted from our daily health plan, one thing will never change as far as health benefits go and that is drinking water. Just as water is good for our brains and muscles, it is also very good for keeping sour breathe and bacterial buildup at bay.
So brush on friends, get those pearly whites nice and clean with the help of your good friends tooth brush and tooth paste. Skip the flossing if you wish, or keep it up, really it’s up to you.