Tags: flossing | medical benefits | associated press | american dental association

Flossing's Medical Benefits Not Proven by Science, Says AP Review

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By    |   Wednesday, 03 Aug 2016 10:40 AM

Flossing's medical benefits were questioned by The Associated Press in a report published Tuesday that concluded that there is little evidence that it works.

The AP stated that the federal government acknowledged in a letter than the effectiveness of flossing "had never been researched, as required," after the news agency tried to get such proof from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The AP examined 25 scientific studies over the past 10 years that generally "compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrushes and floss." The news agency stated that many of those studies found "weak, very unreliable" evidence when it came to flossing's health benefits.

"The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal," the AP stated. The news agency also cited a 2015 review that found "inconsistent/weak evidence" for flossing's benefits.

National Institutes of Health dentist Tim Iafolla said that if the highest standards of science were applied in keeping with the flossing reviews over the past 10 years, "then it would be appropriate to drop the floss guidelines."

Flossing, though, is still hailed by the American Dental Association, a private organization, as a necessary tool for oral hygiene.

"Flossing helps remove debris and interproximal dental plaque, the plaque that collects between two teeth," said a statement on the association's website. "Dental floss (or dental tape) helps clean these hard-to-reach tooth surfaces and reduces the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay. Cleaning between teeth is essential to your daily oral hygiene routine."

The Associated Press study, though, left some feeling "duped."

"It seems like simple, obvious advice: Eat your vegetables, get some exercise, and — of course — floss. Or not," wrote Erin Brodwin of Business Insider. "Turns out that despite being recommended by numerous scientists and universities, the effectiveness of flossing has never been researched …"

Dallas Morning News columnist Mac McCann commented, "This is huge news, life-changing, even. Before, I'd almost never floss and then I'd feel guilty when I lied to my dentist about it. Now, I can skip flossing without shame — other than the shame of being duped for this long."

Matt Simon, of Wired magazine, came to the defense of flossing, saying that while it has not been proven to be effective, it has not been proven to be ineffective either.

"After all, it's a low-risk, low-cost addition to a dental hygiene regimen," Simon wrote. "Even if flossing turns out to be not so effective, it doesn't hurt to do it — though in rare cases overzealous flossers can injure their gums or break dental work. Meanwhile, the risk of not recommending flossing is relatively high …"

Reaction to the study on social media has been mixed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flossing's medical benefits were questioned by The Associated Press in a report published Tuesday that concluded that there is little evidence that it works.
flossing, medical benefits, associated press, american dental association
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2016-40-03
Wednesday, 03 Aug 2016 10:40 AM
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