Dentists Frustrated by AP Report Questioning Flossing’s Value

Dentists Frustrated by AP Report Questioning Flossing’s Value

If you saw this summer’s report from the Associated Press that questioned the benefits of flossing, you might have found yourself wondering whether the world had suddenly been turned inside out. After all dentists have been recommending flossing for many decades, and even the Federal government has advised Americans to make it a part of their daily dental hygiene. Well, apparently the AP had asked to see the government’s evidence of flossing’s benefits and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion appeared to respond by simply dropping the recommendations from the official guidelines.

Now, you might think that would be the end of the matter – but rest assured that it is not. If you saw the headline and scratched flossing off your list of daily dental hygiene tasks, get your pen out and re-insert it. The fact is that the dental community is pretty much uniformly against any change to those dental guidelines, and for one simple reason: the AP is wrong. Flossing does protect teeth and gums, and it has been proven that daily use of floss can reduce the plaque buildup that leads to things like periodontal disease.

Let’s dispense with one thing right out of the gate: the myth that there is no evidence to support the idea that flossing benefits patient dental health. What the AP and others should have noted is that none of their studies included sample sizes or timeframes that could capture those benefits. For dentists and hygienists who have been dealing with the same patients for decades, those benefits are obvious and demonstrably self-evident.

The American Dental Association has responded to the AP report and similar reports from other media outlets by doubling down on its support for flossing’s inclusion within every hygiene regimen. Moreover, ADA has noted that its own conversations with the Department of Health and Human Services reveal that the agency still believes that flossing is “an important oral hygiene practice” – which is a far different position than the one suggested in the headlines of various sensationalized news stories.

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Periodontology continues to defend flossing, focusing on the way in which it removes bacteria that brushing cannot reach. The AAP also noted that the studies used to suggest that there are no benefits fail to even focus on the right periodontal health markers. Finally, the American Dental Hygienist’s Association reaffirmed its commitment to flossing in a statement that left no doubt about its rejection of the AP’s conclusions.

At Ebenezer Dental, we too remain committed to the flossing recommendation, and for one simple reason: we know that it works. Our patients who regularly brush and floss in accordance with the recommended guidelines almost uniformly enjoy better overall dental health than patients who fail to follow any of these important hygienic practices. Without clear evidence that flossing is useless, this sort of reporting can lead many Americans to false conclusions that could negatively impact their dental health – and that is something that no one in the dental community can ever support. To find out more or to schedule your next dental appointment with the best dentist in midtown Manhattan, contact us today!