Recently, the Associated Press dropped a truth bomb that the whole world was waiting for. It showed that little evidence exists that proves flossing ACTUALLY does anything for your oral health. The world pretty much took that advice, went to their medicines cabinets and said, "Bye-bye-bye" as they tossed their flossing tools in the garbage. And while the study is interesting, maybe it's not the best idea to say goodbye to this dreaded health chore just YET.
Everyone's gotten a lecture from their dentsit about their flossing game before. You know the spiel. Flossing is supposed to get all the gunk in between your teeth out, it removes the old food and plaque build up. And by doing this chore of removing the gunk, it's supposed to lead to the prevention of tooth decay and gum diseases. Everyone has been told to keep up the daily chore of flossing and "how it's good for you" and we stuck to that rule. But know one ever dug in to see if there was a whole lot of health research behind the lecture.
“To be honest, many of us in the dental public health community have known for years that the information was sparse,” says Scott Tomar, editor of the Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice.
But let's be real. Your dentist isn't a mad scientist stroking their chin coming up with ways to make your life hard, and the idea that flossing is GOOD comes from pure intentions. And, yes, they don't think you should stop flossing just yet.
And here's why.
In the lab where the AP study test took place, they found that flossing does indeed reduce inflammation and bleeding of the gums, but the study itself only lasted a few weeks. That is not enough time to track the development of long-term disease. Hence the "little evidence" that it helps prevent diseases.
"When you move the study out into the real world, a large epidemiological study,” says Tim Iafolla of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “the problem is you can’t follow people at home and make sure they’re flossing correctly or flossing when they should be.”
In order to get good data about why flossing is actually bad for you, researchers would have to run a study for several years. They would have to test both strict flossers and non-flossers. The cost of the study would take an estimate $10 million, says the National Institute of Health. And that kind money for a flossing study just isn't there.
And that's why dentists will continue to recommend flossing. I mean think about it. You get something gross in your teeth, something that could potentially lead to tooth damage on the rest of your teeth, you want it gone right? It's just common sense.
So don't give up on that brushing and flossing just yet. Follow Bey's actions and keep on taking care to get rid of that gunk between your teeth.