Dental Floss News: Is Flossing Your Teeth Pointless? Study Calls Evidence Of Flossing Benefits ‘Very Unreliable’

Dental floss. For years, dentists have encouraged their patients to use dental floss on a regular basis. However, several studies shine a different light on the concept of flossing your teeth daily — raising questions about whether or not there are any benefits to it at all.

dental floss news
The Journal of Clinical Periodontology addressed the benefits of dental flossing in an article published in March, 2015. The study mentioned within the article focused on effective methods for managing gingivitis and preventing periodontitis. According to the article, the benefits of using dental floss in that regard were not proven.

“Despite being widely advocated, it is noteworthy that the majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal and in reducing gingival inflammation.”

However, the study did emphasize the effectiveness of using interdental brushes (IDBs) as effective tools for removing plaque instead of solely relying on a manual toothbrush to get the job done.

dental floss news
According to the study, other interproximal cleaning devices — such as dental floss, oral irrigators, and wood sticks — do not offer substantial evidence to prove their effectiveness when it comes to achieving the same goal.

“Other inter-proximal cleaning devices show very inconsistent/weak evidence for an adjunctive effect, either due to a lack of efficacy (flossing) or a lack of evidence from appropriate clinical investigations (oral irrigators and wood sticks).”

The study further acknowledged that there is “limited evidence” providing that the inflammation of a person’s gums is reduced by interproximal cleaning overall, even when interdental brushes are used.

Another article, published by the Journal of Dental Hygiene (JDH) and the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), highlighted similar conclusions that were based on a collection of different studies.

“There is weak, very unreliable evidence from 10 studies that flossing plus toothbrushing may be associated with a small reduction in plaque at 1 and 3 months. No studies reported the effectiveness of flossing plus toothbrushing for preventing dental caries.”

The article did, however, acknowledge the evidence that proved dental flossing in addition to using toothbrushes regularly reduced gingivitis more than only using a toothbrush. However, the popular belief that dental floss helps to get rid of plaque is still being targeted for its lack of substantial evidence with each of these reports.

The American Dental Association is apparently standing behind its original recommendations of using dental floss regularly to care for your teeth properly. The group posted several statements and links to articles about flossing benefits on Twitter Tuesday in response to the studies arguing against it making headlines this week.

Long before these studies were published, the concept of using dental floss in general was not very “popular” with patients and is a common reminder that dentists have to give patients after each examination. At the end of the day, the burden of a person’s oral health rests in their own hands. Whether or not they decide to use dental floss as part of their daily oral routine is up to them.

Perhaps the conclusions drawn from these studies and dental floss news will lead consumers to question investing in and relying on dental floss in the future. On the other hand, people that have already become accustomed to flossing their teeth on a daily basis in order to preserve their oral health may very well continue doing so. While the studies focused on the lack of substantial evidence proving the effectiveness of dental floss when it comes to plaque removal, they did acknowledge the slight advantage of using floss when it comes to overall dental care instead of just using a toothbrush.

[Image via Voyagerix/Shutterstock]