Is flossing really necessary?

It’s been in the news recently – “flossing may not be as effective as once thought.” I would like to offer my perspective, based on my observations over the past 40 years: patients that floss regularly tend to have less gingivitis (inflammation and bleeding), and less tartar buildup, which is essential for the prevention of gum disease.

A look past the headline reveals that evidence in support of regular flossing doesn’t exist because no long term studies have been done. And with no research to point to, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have chosen not to include flossing in their latest dietary guidelines for Americans (NY Times, August 2, 2016).  Short term studies (1-3 months) show little measurable benefit from flossing, but the progression of gum disease takes years to develop.

The American Academy of Periodontics continues to support flossing for removal of sticky, bacterial film that clings to all surfaces of the teeth and gums and has potential to cause bigger oral and systemic infections, if not removed regularly. And while the clinical studies have not yet been done, I have seen the benefits of regular flossing firsthand.

My advice – don’t gamble with your oral health, and don’t forget to floss!