Recent reports removing the recommendation to floss, have led to rejoicing among many people and shock and despair for dental hygienists. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/health/flossing-teeth-cavities.html?_r=0 But what was actually said and what does it mean?
The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are required by law to have strong scientific research for every recommendation. The reality is that many of our health recommendations don’t have great scientific research. That is why we are constantly given updated recommendations, as new and better information becomes available. When it comes to home practices like flossing, getting well done, double blind studies on large numbers of people is very expensive and time consuming.
It is important to note that the survey did not claim that there was evidence that flossing is ineffective but rather that there is not strong evidence that flossing is effective in reducing cavities and gum disease. Big difference!
So what do we know? Well we know that plaque, (the bacterial film that colonizes teeth), causes cavities and gum inflammation. We know that inflammation is strongly correlated to gum disease. We know that flossing is one of several effective methods for reducing plaque between teeth. There are other aids to remove plaque and we often suggest them to patients who have trouble flossing or don’t like to floss.
There is no reward for flossing- there is a health benefit to removing plaque.
See the alternative uses for floss our Gallery57Dental hygienist have suggested, on our Gallery57Dental Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Gallery57Dental/videos/1105217906202967/