A few years ago a number of misleading newspaper articles were published concerning the ineffectiveness of dental flossing. These headlines led to many of our patients abandoning this important part of their dental hygiene regimen and we are still often asked about this. We at H. Williams and Associates believe that it is very important the community have a better understanding of the issues.
The story stemmed from when the news agency The Associated Press picked up on an omission from the American Department of Health and Human Services’ dietary guidelines, which had previously recommended flossing. The studies they were using no longer met their inclusion criteria so the recommendation was dropped. This does not mean flossing is no longer recommended.
There is very good evidence for the association between plaque build-up and gum disease as well as dental decay. There is also very strong evidence that cleaning between the teeth is essential to reduce this plaque, and that this cannot be performed by brushing alone. Interdental brushes are the gold standard but often the gaps between teeth are too tight. Water jets and floss may be far easier to use. In short, as a profession we continue to recommend flossing and the American Department of Health and Human Services’ has issued a statement to say that it never intended to make these implications. In the UK our guidelines come from Public Health England, whose paper “Delivering better oral health” clearly states the importance of cleaning daily between the teeth.