I’m curious to know if my Elgin dentist will continue to recommend flossing. I recently saw a news broadcast that talked about a study that revealed there’s no benefit to flossing. Is this for real? If it is real, how could they continue to justify telling people to keep doing it? I feel like I’ve been duped all these years and that flossing is the biggest scam we’ll see in our lifetimes.
You’re partially right. A study came out at the end of last year that said that there is not enough evidence to prove there is a great enough benefit to recommend flossing across the board, but it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Vic, have you ever told the dentist or hygienist that you’ve been flossing when you really haven’t? A whopping 27% of the population admits to doing this and, yes, your Elgin dentist really does know when you fib about it, and not because he’s psychic, either. This statistic is highly relevant because most of the studies that have shown marginal oral health improvement after a patient begins flossing uses numbers based on self-reporting. These people said they flossed, and so they got included in the group of flossers. We don’t know if they really did, but if they’re representative of the general population, a little more than a quarter of them fibbed.
However, there were some studies done in which it was impossible to cheat. People had their teeth professionally flossed five times per week. Bingo! The prevalence of cavities between teeth dropped significantly for those folks. In all fairness, this can’t be related entirely to “cheaters.” A lot of people simply don’t know how to floss effectively, and so having a professional do it ensured that the spaces between those pearly whites were squeaky clean.
On top of this, most studies don’t account for other factors that can impact oral health. Were these people smokers, diabetics, or taking medications that can cause oral health issues? We don’t know. We do know that the group saw some improvement where gum disease was concerned, but not to the degree that a universal recommendation could be given.
The bottom line is that you should still be flossing and your Elgin dentist will undoubtedly tell you this. Hopefully, he or someone on his team will also spend some time with you showing you how to do it right, so you get the most benefit from it as well.
This blog is sponsored by Elgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.