by Dr. Eric Browning, Muncie, IN
Recently, an article came out in the news stating that there is no compelling evidence that flossing works. I have been asked about this by many of my patients. I would like to share my opinion on this.
The American Academy of Periodontology recommends daily flossing as part of your oral hygiene routine. The accumulation of plaque beneath the gum line may cause an inflammatory reaction which leads to gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease can worsen, leading to tooth loss. Flossing allows for the removal of bacteria and debris from areas of the mouth where brushing alone cannot reach.
Because the development of periodontal disease is slow in nature, studies that examine the effects of daily flossing are best conducted over a number of years and among a large population. Much of the current evidence does not utilize a large sample size or examine gum health over a significant amount of time. Additionally, many of the existing studies do not measure markers of periodontal health, such as inflammation.
Just because we do not have “high quality” evidence that flossing works, does not mean that it is of no benefit. We also do not have “high quality” evidence that jumping out of an airplane without a parachute would lead to death, but common sense would tell us otherwise, correct? The same thing goes with flossing. Common sense tells us that when we floss and remove that chunk of food from between our molars, this is of a benefit, is it not?
So keep flossing daily. It is both low risk and low cost. What have you got to lose (other than your teeth)??
About Eric Browning, DMD
Dr. Browning received his DMD from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and his MS from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is a periodontist in Muncie, IN. He can be contacted at browningperiodontics.com.