Health Buzz: Flossing Doesn't Actually Work, Report Says

SATurday - 07/01/2017 04:19
Dental assistant flossing between girls braces

It might be time to toss your dental floss. (GETTY IMAGES)


It might be time to toss your dental floss: An Associated Press investigation has uncovered minimal evidence that flossing is effective, despite decades of public health recommendations to the contrary.

Flossing has even been included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which come out every five years and are, by law, required to contain evidence-based recommendations. Last year, before the release of the latest Dietary Guidelines, the AP requested scientific evidence on flossing from the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, including by filing formal Freedom of Information Act requests. The government's response? Admitting in a letter to the AP that proper research had never been done, "as required," and the flossing recommendation was omitted "without notice" from the latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines, according to the AP.

Analyzing the "most rigorous research conducted in the past decade," the AP investigated 25 studies on toothbrushing and flossing and discovered "weak, very unreliable" evidence in favor of flossing, with the research having "a moderate to large potential for bias."

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology have cited studies and suggested that flossing can stop plaque buildup, gingivitis and tooth decay, though the AP says these studies were small or potentially biased . Some of these studies lasted for just two weeks, hardly enough time for the formation of a cavity or dental disease, and others looked at only 25 people after just one flossing session.

Additionally, the flossing industry has funded many studies, and in some cases, even did the research themselves. The global market for flossing is anticipated to hit $2 billion by 2017, with $1 billion just in the U.S. alone, according to


Flossing has been an integral part of government recommendations since 1979, first through a surgeon general's report and later in the Dietary Guidelines. It was invented in the early 19th century by dentist Levi Spear Parmly, and since 1908, the American Dental Association has been endorsing floss.

Still, not all experts say it's time to toss your floss. Tim Iafolla, a dentist with the National Institutes of Health, still recommends flossing, since there's little risk and potential reward. "We know there's a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it," he told the AP.

Author: Lam Phuc

Source: Internet

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