The dental industry and our government have universally recommended it. It’s been gospel, really, for preventing cavities and gum disease.
However, it turns out that flossing daily may not be as effective as it’s been made out to be.
In fact, it may not even be worth doing at all!
The newest dietary guidelines for Americans, issued by the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, took out any mention of flossing.
In a letter to the Associated Press, the government acknowledged something interesting. That is, the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched like it should have been before it was recommended to the public en masse.
The news organization examined 25 different studies about the effectiveness of dental floss. It concluded that evidence for its benefits is "weak" … and "there’s little proof that flossing works."
In a statement issued this past week, the American Academy of Periodontology also acknowledged that most of the current evidence fell short because researchers had not been able to include enough participants. Nor were they able to "examine gum health over a significant amount of time."
This recent report is blowing up in the media this week. However, the legitimacy for flossing has been under investigation for quite some time.
A review of 12 randomized controlled trials published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2011 found only "very unreliable" evidence that flossing might reduce plaque after one and three months.
Researchers could not find any studies on the effectiveness of flossing combined with brushing for cavity prevention.
Now, two quick reactions immediately come to my mind.
First, almost nobody enjoys flossing and most of us have to dreadfully force ourselves to do it every night.
If flossing really isn’t effective, then a whole lot of people just wasted a lot of their time.
And not just time, but a ton of money as well.
Americans spent $448 million on floss in 2015, up 12% from $394 million in 2005.
So when it comes to recommending dental flossing going forward, there’s certainly going to be a bias and conflict of interest coming from the dental industry.
Although, there was some small evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.
That Cochrane review found that regular brushers and flossers had less gum bleeding than people who only brushed. Yet, the authors cautioned that the quality of the evidence was "very low."
When something like flossing, which is touted as dental gospel, suddenly comes under extreme questioning of legitimacy, it’s frustrating as a consumer. This kind of contradictory messaging makes you wonder who you can trust.
Please share your reaction to these new findings by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.
That’s all for today.
Happy and healthy investing,