A debate over flossing has emerged, and it’s grown to the point that some are now calling it “Flossgate.” To paraphrase Shakespeare: To floss or not to floss, that is the question. We’d like to set the record straight on this topic. The answer is yes, you DO need to floss!
A single news report threatens to undermine decades of public health outreach. This report has been circulated widely and repeated in many other news stories. Essentially, it claims that there’s no evidence supporting the need for flossing and that the U.S. government doesn’t think flossing is necessary for oral health.
This claim is simply not accurate. The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines focused on food and nutrient intake (like sugar) as a means to promote oral health. Just because flossing wasn’t mentioned in 2015 doesn’t mean it’s not important. Brushing was removed from the guidelines too, but no one’s claiming that you can stop brushing your teeth! Additionally, there ARE studies showing the importance of flossing in reducing plaque.
Dentists have nothing to gain by encouraging you to floss. We don’t benefit if you neglect your oral health. The only reason we’re emphasizing the need to floss is that it removes cavity-causing plaque! Plaque is that slimy film of bacteria and saliva you notice in your mouth, and it damages teeth. It can lead to cavities, receding gums and tooth loss. Additionally, gum disease has been linked to a variety of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
So, there are many reasons to floss:
- Dental health
- Overall health
- Breath freshness
- Smile appearance
Future of Dentistry is one of many experts that advocate flossing, along with:
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- The American Dental Association
- American Academy of Periodontology
- The Mayo Clinic
- And many other health organizations!
Flossing has long been a sensitive topic for many patients. Those who don’t floss regularly are embarrassed to admit it. In fact, one study shows that at least 27 percent of U.S. adults lie to their dentist about how often they floss. There’s no need to be embarrassed. Just remember that flossing is critical to preventing disease, cavities and costly dental work down the road.
If you’re not already in the habit, look for ways to make flossing a more convenient part of your daily routine. Try flossing while watching TV at night or using floss picks. As we often say in the dental community, you only need to floss the teeth you want to keep!