The news made the rounds last year: according to the Associated Press, flossing has been dropped from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The move came after it was decided that the scientific evidence for flossing wasn’t strong enough to set national hygiene policy by it. In a move that caused a stir in the dental community, some among us have spread the message: You might not have to floss.
Some say that you don’t have to floss
But how much of this is true, and how much is sensationalist? The answer to that question depends on who you ask.
First off, the issues with the pro-flossing guideline isn’t so much about flossing as it is about testing methods. According to the Associated Press, the guideline was removed due to concerns for the integrity of the science, such as the lack of subjects used in the studies (as few as 25 people, in one notable study.) On the subject of flossing, however, most dentists have stayed firmly in the “pro-” camp. “Flossing is a low-risk, low-cost procedure,” according to one article on the subject. The article goes on to quote a number of dentists who all agree: when it comes to removing plaque, flossing is second to none.
Alright, we’ll admit it– that sub-header is misleading. We don’t have many anti-flossing thoughts. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, flossing is an effective way to keep your teeth clean and free of gum-damaging plaque.
What we do have, though, are some flossing-modifying thoughts! According to some sources, over 36% of people would rather do a given unpleasant activity instead of flossing. And we totally understand! A lot of people have had a bad experience with flossing, with pain and bleeding gums being common. The issue we have with this is more educational than functional– a lot of dentists don’t teach proper flossing, which gives the whole establishment a bad name.
One of the biggest corrections we can make here is this: make sure you’re being gentle! A lot of people go overboard when it comes to flossing, leaving their mouth feeling raw and painful. The watchword when flossing is ‘gently!’ Make sure you’re not flossing too hard– the tissue of your gums is soft and sensitive. For a quick refresher, take a look at this ADA guide to proper flossing technique.
If you have any questions about flossing, gum-health, or overall dental hygiene, don’t hesitate to contact us! New City Family Dentistry has the most experienced and dedicated staff around. If you’re in the New City, NY area, stop by and we’ll teach you how to floss the right way!