Don’t Stop Flossing Your Teeth!

August 17, 2016 in Dental Hygiene,General dentistry by mccarl_dental

Woman Flossing her teeth

Many of our patients have read the most recent ground breaking report from the Associated Press (AP) stating that flossing has been removed from the Surgeon General’s five year Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 report. While we understand how this could be misleading, it’s important to note that dietary regulations are the goal of this report NOT oral hygiene guidelines. If you have questions about why we recommend daily flossing, keep reading, or ask one of our team members during your next six month checkup at McCarl Dental Group.

The Associated Press’s Take on the Surgeon General’s Recommendation

According to the AP, the removal of flossing from the surgeon general’s recommendations compounded by a lack of research that proves the efficacy of flossing means that we no longer need to floss. The article begins by explaining that the Surgeon General removed flossing from the 2015 guidelines, and that anything included in these guidelines is by law to be based on scientific evidence. They then recount the results of their request to the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for evidence that flossing is effective according to the Freedom of Information Act. The results the AP received seem to indicate that there is not a scientific reason to floss every day. However, we’d like to have an opportunity to address our concerns with the AP’s logic.

The Flaws in Logic from the Dentist’s Perspective

From the perspective of the team at McCarl Dental Group, there are four main problems with the AP’s cited reasons for removing flossing from the Surgeon General’s report:

  • The purpose of scientific research – we invest time and money into research to prove or disprove the efficacy or truth of some unknown quantity. Flossing has been around since prehistory. Skeletal remains of ancient humans show signs of flossing and toothpick usage on the wear patterns of teeth. Some of the earliest known dental flosses were simply strands of horse hair or pig bristles. This practice is so engrained in our daily lives after centuries of building the healthy habit that further research seems both wasteful and unnecessary.
  • The need to clean all sides of teeth – we floss to remove food, bacteria, and plaque from the surfaces of teeth not accessible with a toothbrush. Even the most thorough tooth brushing routine cannot completely clean the spaces between teeth. Think about getting the dreaded apple skin stuck between your teeth. You see and feel it in the spaces between teeth and have probably needed floss to help you fully remove apple skins. Just because you can’t see plaque as clearly, doesn’t me it’s not there.
  • The truth in what we see – however, if seeing is believing, we invite our patients to believe us when we say, “We can tell a difference between patients who floss and those who don’t!” Flossers are less likely to develop cavities, experience gum disease, many have brighter smiles, and daily flossers are much less likely to lose teeth as they age.
  • The truth in what the Surgeon General says – finally, it’s essential to understand that the Surgeon General’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is just that. It is a document with the focused intent of helping people in the US make better dietary choices. This document should not be viewed as the final word in governmental recommendations on oral health. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health has already gone to bat for flossing, and so have numerous national and international research groups.

Contact Your Dentist in Greenbelt to Find Out More

Long story short, don’t believe everything you read on the internet, and remember, even articles that appear to be thoroughly researched can present these efforts in a misleading fashion. We hope all of our patients continue to brush and floss daily because we want each and every one of you to keep your smiles whole and healthy for a lifetime! Contact your dentist in Greenbelt to schedule a checkup today.