Recent news reports have questioned the efficacy of flossing based on the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) omitting the recommendation of flossing, which has been a hallmark of daily oral hygiene advice by oral health professionals. The change comes after a review of 25 studies published within the last decade suggested the evidence for flossing is weak, according to an article published by the Associated Press (AP)1. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) made a deliberate decision to focus on food and nutrient intake (i.e., added sugar). Omission in the dietary guidelines should not imply reversal of long standing recommendations from the Surgeon General, Center for Disease Control (CDC), HHS and oral health professionals. Oral health providers have consistently seen the positive effects of this tool as an aide in establishing good oral hygiene.
To maintain good oral health, the National Dental Association (NDA) continues to recommend flossing as an important part of a regular oral hygiene routine, which also includes brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, ensuring you receive regular dental visits and professional cleanings as advised by your dentist.
The accumulation of plaque bacteria between the teeth and beneath the gum line can lead to tooth decay and may cause an inflammatory response which ultimately leads to gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease can worsen, leading to tooth loss and increased risk for other systemic disease. Interdental cleaning between teeth allows for the removal of plaque bacteria and debris from areas in the mouth that brushing alone cannot reach.
Despite the lack of strong evidence in current studies, patients should continue with this oral hygiene tool to promote good oral health status and seek the advice of their oral health provider for proper techniques in flossing and interdental cleaning to ensure efficacy.
- MacReady N. Dietary Guidelines Omit Flossing, but Patients Shouldn’t. Medscape. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/867187. Published 2016.
Released 08/05/2016 by NDA