Exciting news if you dread getting the “are you flossing?” question at the dentist: It turns out you don’t really need to do it.
The Associated Press made the declaration in a new investigation that started when they asked the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for their evidence that flossing makes a difference in problems like cavities and gum disease since the law dictates that such statements must be backed by science.
Instead, the government told the AP that the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, and that the flossing recommendation was removed when new dietary guidelines were released earlier this year.
The AP reviewed 25 studies that all came to the same conclusion: The link between flossing and good health is weak at best. “The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal,” said one review published in 2015.
There’s also a chance that flossing could cause problems — “bad bacteria” can break free from the gums, leading to health problems in people with weakened immune systems. Plus, bad flossing techniques can cause damage to dental work.
Still, Wayne Aldredge, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, says he’ll continue to recommend flossing to his patients.
“It’s like building a house and not painting two sides of it,” he told the AP. “Ultimately those two sides are going to rot away quicker.”
I’ve always been the odd duck that loves flossing — and that love has only grown stronger since I got my braces a couple of months ago. This new realization won’t change my habits, especially since it keeps my gums from bleeding when I do visit the dentist.
And who wants random food stuck in their teeth all day? Not me, so you can peel my floss from my cold, dead hands.