Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is Flossing BS?

As one of the few people who have watched a video on Discovery News (I was surprised by how many have 0 views - Is it Anthony's voice?), their video for Oct 15, Flossing if BS!, of course got my attention.
The gist of the video is that various studies have failed to show that flossing makes much of a difference in the long term health of your mouth.
Another item that's included is the assertion that "professional" flossing was effective compared to the flossing routines of children.
Where to begin?
A few years ago, this matter caught my attention after I heard it being discussed among a group of dental public health professionals.
The claim that "professional" flossing was effective particularly interested me.  What is a professional flosser?  What tricks do they know that other mere flossing mortals can't aspire to?
It turns out that the claim about "professional" flossers was applied to a few mothers who were given simple flossing instructions in order to floss kids teeth daily in a school study.  The kids who didn't get flossed by the Mom's didn't do so well in comparison - is it possible kids who don't floss sometimes say they do? The study showed flossing worked and kids probably don't floss or floss well enough to compare with an adult.  There isn't a good study involving adults that's really shown whether flossing decreases cavities or gum disease.  But, keep in mind, it's hard to show an effect on things like decay that happen slowly and may be affected by a number of things like diet and tooth health.
Anthony, you and your video crew, may have missed a lot of info, but I've seen people with a lot more special training (and better voices), miss out on the same stuff.
If you want more details about this topic, and a fuller explanation of the problems with showing that flossing makes a difference in the long term health of your mouth, please check out this "White Paper" we posted in 2011 to explain the story.
Meanwhile, keep in mind what Anthony commented on in his video, if you want a mouth that's not really clean, don't floss.  Whether or not flossing will pay off long term, you know it cleans better than brushing alone.  That's something even monkeys have figured out!

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