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Keep Flossing to Maintain Oral Health

In recent dental news, the need for flossing has come under question. The Associated Press released a study stating that there is little evidence to support the claim that flossing is really necessary. But after years of being told that flossing is one of the most important things for our oral hygiene, is this news really true?

The Truth About Flossing

As the AP article suggests, there isn’t definitive research that suggests flossing helps to maintain oral health, but dentists have continued to suggest that flossing is crucial for removing plaque and leftover food from between our teeth. That is because while the studies don’t prove that flossing is effective for reducing our risk of gum disease or tooth decay, it also doesn’t disprove it either.

The studies on the effectiveness of flossing have been pretty short overall, lasting only a few weeks at a time. While a few weeks is enough time to start seeing less bleeding of the gums or reduced inflammation, it isn’t enough time to really see if flossing can contribute to overall oral health in the way that dentists say.

Long-term studies become a problem for a number of reasons. On the one hand, you would need to study the same group of individuals for years to see how flossing really influences their oral health. If the study discovers that not flossing can drastically increase someone’s ability to develop gum disease, it raises ethical questions in having forced individuals in the control group to not floss for years.

Another reason long-term studies haven’t been conducted is because of the money it would take to follow through on such a study. With the National Institutes of Health footing the bill, there just seem to be more important issues and illnesses to study.

What’s the Verdict?

Although studies may suggest there is not sufficient evidence to believe flossing reduces the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, the Kansas City, MO cosmetic dentistry office of Dr. James R. Anderson, DDS wouldn’t recommend skipping the step just yet. Until the problems of money or ethics are solved, a long-term study may not be in the near future. As a cheap and easy solution – one that comes without risk of harm – it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to flossing.

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