Reprinted from ADA Morning Huddle, August 4, 2016
On its “Shots” blog, NPR (8/2, Bichell) reports that despite the AP story questioning the benefits of flossing, a spokesperson with the US Department of Health and Human Services said, “They were not implying that this is not an important oral hygiene practice…although dental floss was mentioned in past editions of the guidelines, it was most likely identified as a supporting recommendation along with brushing teeth, with the primary emphasis being on the nutrition-based recommendation to reduce added sugars.”
Fox News (8/3) spoke with ADA Member and Texas Congressman Dr. Brian Babin who noted, “As a practicing dentist for 38 years, I have literally seen with my own eyes and experienced in my own oral hygiene the benefits of flossing. It prevents interproximal tooth decay in between the teeth…every dentist believes it is beneficial to oral health and therefore overall health.”
Wired (8/3, Simon) reports that many experts believe people should still floss. Wired notes there are challenges with conducting “a real-world, longitudinal study” that is necessary to prove the efficacy of flossing, including the costs involved and the reliance on people to floss properly. The ADA “maintains that flossing is effective and continues to recommend it” to promote oral health. Dr. Marcelo W.B. Araujo, vice president of the ADA Science Institute, said the news coverage is likely “to trigger good conversation between the public and their dentists. And that’s what we really want.”
The Huffington Post (8/3, Williams) states that “a lack of good research doesn’t prove something is ineffective ? just that it hasn’t been a priority for research funding.” ADA spokesperson Dr. Matthew Messina still maintains that flossing is effective. “We need to remove bacteria from the teeth, from the gums, and from in between the teeth.”
Tech Insider (8/3) reports that the AP found that although studies have not been properly structured to show a positive effect from flossing, dentists tell the AP it doesn’t imply the benefits are not there.
In addition, sources are reporting on dentists within the United States and around the world calling on patients to continue flossing their teeth, including WBZ-TV Boston (8/3), WTVT-TV Tampa, FL (8/2), the Telegraph (UK) (8/3, Knapton), Dental Republic (UK) (8/3), the Irish Times (8/3), and the South China Morning Post (8/3).
The ADA has released a statement on the benefits of using interdental cleaners and a Science in the News article titled, “The Medical Benefit of Daily Flossing Called Into Question,” discusses evidence about the impact of flossing on oral health.