You may have seen a bombshell viral news story this August that claims flossing doesn't actually work. But that's not quite the whole story.
An investigation by the Associated Press revealed a shocking revelation that there is little to no evidence that flossing actually benefits your oral health, and existing studies only contain "weak" evidence to support flossing. However, that doesn't mean flossing doesn't work, only that no one actually bothered to check.
According to the Associated Press, the government told them in a letter that the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched as required for inclusion in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Again, this doesn’t mean that flossing is ineffective; it simply means that no one has conducted the research to prove its effectiveness.
Perhaps no one has done the research because the positive effects of flossing are so blatantly obvious. Based on the anecdotal evidence of dentists literally everywhere, flossing is important for gum health.
Wayne Aldredge, president of the periodontists’ group, said, “It’s like building a house and not painting two sides of it. Ultimately those two sides are going to rot away quicker.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services actually released a statement following the inquiry published by the Associated Press. They reaffirmed the health benefits of flossing, calling it “an important oral hygiene practice.”
Flossing should be performed as a supplementary practice with brushing and regular visits to the dental office. In reality, flossing does about 40% of the work when it comes to removing bacteria and plaque from your teeth. When plaque builds up, it produces acid, which causes cavities and irritates the gums, leading to gum disease.
Flossing also helps to preserve a youthful appearance, since gum disease eats away at the gums and teeth, attacking the bones that support the lower third of your face. When you are able to preserve the height of those bones, you will maintain a more youthful look. This is especially important as over 50% of American adults over the age of 50 believe that a smile is the number one physical feature that stays the most attractive as we age.
According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, nearly all adults (99.7%) feel that a healthy smile is essential to their social life, and 96% believe that an attractive smile makes one more appealing to a potential mate.
So, no matter what you read on Facebook, it's important to keep flossing.