Are there any real benefits of flossing regularly? If you believe a recent news article published by The Associated Press, the answer is no. The article suggests that there isn't enough evidence or compelling reason to floss and that it doesn't really provide much benefit. The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services seem to agree; they dropped flossing from their recommended dietary guidelines. Before you give up flossing for good, however, your dentist might have a few things to say about it. Following are reasons why the American Dental Association and your dentist want you to continue to floss.
While it's true that many studies found that flossing regularly provided very little or no benefits for their participants, the ADA has an issue with the way the studies were conducted. Most studies followed participants for only a short amount of time. The true benefits of flossing, argues the ADA, are long term. In order to see how much flossing actually improves health and reduces gum disease, you have to follow participants for a long period of time. This is because gum disease is a slow, progressive disease.
It's estimated that only 10 to 40 percent of Americans actually floss, and most of them don't do so faithfully. And, when they do floss, they likely aren't using the right technique. Most people who floss simply insert the string between their teeth and yank it out. However, this method provides little benefit. If the participants in the studies were using this technique, it's no wonder the results are what they are. Proper technique involves curving the floss against the side of every tooth and firmly motioning it up and down. The goal is not to simply remove food from between the teeth, but rather to clean the teeth where other tools can't reach.
The Right Tool
Floss is one of the few tools that can reach between your teeth and clean those spaces effectively. A regular toothbrush just won't do it. So, if you're not flossing or using a specialized tool to get between your teeth, a large portion of your teeth and gums aren't getting cleaned.
As you can see, there are several reasons why you should continue to floss despite the recent information in the news. The ADA and your dentist urge you to keep flossing. If you don't already do so, it's a good time to take up the habit. For more information, talk to a dentist at a dental office such as Paul G. Isler Dental.