The recent guidelines issued by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services no longer mentions flossing. Apparently officials had not done research about the effectiveness of regular flossing before they had recommended for Americans to floss. Without the requisite research, the recommendation had to be dropped. The American Academy of Periodontology agreed that current evidence was not adequate because researchers had not included enough participants nor had they examined gum health over a long enough period of time.
There is apparently no reliable evidence that flossing prevents tooth decay or severe periodontal disease. There is some evidence that flossing reduces bloody gums and inflammation, or gingivitis. I have certainly seen both good and poor flossers in my office. To my mind, the problem is that people don’t know how to floss properly – they really don’t understand the purpose of flossing. The goal is to remove, or reduce, plaque in between the teeth. You need to floss carefully against the root of the tooth to bring the plaque to the surface. Once periodontitis develops, the pocket may be too deep for effective flossing. An interproximal brush, such as the Go-Between, is more effective. Despite the limitations, cleaning between the teeth is crucial. How many people remember the old saying, “You don’t have to floss all your teeth, only the ones you want to keep.” I don’t know where that saying came from, whether from an advertisement or not, but it was a popular saying some 30 years ago!