Published on August 9, 2016

Flossgate… or is flossing worth the effort

Flossgate… or is flossing worth the effort

Last week Associated Press published a report that shook to the core one of the postulates of good oral health, namely “Thou shalt floss daily”. Here at StockdaleMartin we have been following the unfolding of the ensuing drama with interest.

The original report said that the evidence for flossing is “weak, very unreliable,” of “very low” quality, and carries “a moderate to large potential for bias”. Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said: ‘People are different and large studies are costly to do … until then you can’t really say yes or no.

‘Small interdental brushes are preferable for cleaning the area in between the teeth, where there is space to do so. Floss is of little value unless the spaces between your teeth are too tight for the interdental brushes to fit without hurting or causing harm.’

However, Michaela O’Neill, president of the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy pointed out that: ‘Tooth brushing alone only cleans three of the five surfaces of our teeth, so cleaning between our teeth is a critical part of good oral hygiene as it helps to prevent gum disease by removing plaque from any areas missed by brushing alone.’

So people should still clean their interdental spaces; it’s just unclear whether floss is the best way to do that.

The US health department has already removed daily flossing from its list of dental recommendations and the NHS is to review its guidance on the issue. Yet it is a surprise that, in an industry which is meant to be evidence-driven, one of the core guidelines hasn’t been based on solid research and has remained unchallenged for so long.

What are your views? Join in the debate and let us know!

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