Flossing, by Walter Siegmund on WikicommonsEvery time you go to the dentist, you are told that you should floss your teeth. If you’re one of the people who eagerly follows that advice, you may have been disappointed if you read this week that there isn’t much evidence supporting flossing.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep flossing. It just means that we haven’t done enough research on its benefits. We can tell you based on our experience that flossing does make a difference.

Why the Evidence for Flossing Is Weak

The problem with here isn’t associated with flossing: the problem is with science. In the Cochrane review of flossing, only 12 qualifying studies were identified. This isn’t very much research, and with some of them not having great methodology, it’s no wonder that the Cochrane people would classify the evidence as “weak.”

One of the problems with the studies is that very few of them are long-term studies. They were all less than 9 months long. Flossing in particular and oral health in general is a long-term strategy. Over time you will see benefit, but that benefit may not be especially pronounced over a short time frame.

However, what evidence there is supports flossing. People who floss have less gum inflammation and bleeding, the signs of

gum disease. Since gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, it’s likely that flossing makes an important contribution to protecting your teeth.

Our Observations on Flossing

In our experience, flossing makes a big difference in the health of your teeth and gums. It seems to reduce the risk of inflammation, bleeding, and gum disease generally. People who brush their teeth carefully and floss daily are at a lower risk of developing cavities between their teeth, which is good because these cavities can be hard to detect and treat. We can always tell the difference between people who really floss regularly and those who may do it for a few days before their appointment.

For these reasons alone, it is well worth it to keep up your flossing. And, of course, make regular visits to your dentist, where we can assess your efforts, remove tartar that you can’t get rid of at home, and detect any problems that may arise.

If you’re overdue for a visit to the dentist, please call 949-238-6745 today for an appointment with a dentist in Irvine at Rice Dentistry.