How Flossing Brought About Irresponsible Journalism

This week’s big news was reported by the Associated Press regarding the lack of medical benefits from flossing.  So naturally, our office was presented with the printed article multiple times.  Luckily for us, our patients are well dentally educated to disregard the findings.  For me to have to refute it is futile.  Some things are just better demonstrated through photos.

These are pictures of moderate to severe gingivitis and periodontitis.  These conditions will eventually lead to bone loss if it’s chronic.  Then ultimately, teeth loss.  These patients say they brush but not floss.

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This 5 y.o patient came to us from a pedodontist’s office.  S/he needed sedation as s/he is too young and immature to understand behavioral management.  Parents state they brush and floss her/his teeth nightly, even restricting sugars from daily diet.  Now, if you look at the x-ray that was sent to us, there are so many white spots (a.k.a. fillings and silver crowns).  The red ink circled the decay that was not treated.  There are also some more spots of recurrent decay, which is decay under the restorations.  Upon further clinical observation, the patient was born at a disadvantage with poor quality teeth.  Can you imagine how much worse this could have been had her/his parents were not diligent in home care?

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Medical studies that support facts based on unbiased experts are great.  Medical studies based on patients’ reports and habits are unreliable.  To report that flossing has very little effect on your dental health is irresponsible journalism.  We are living in a time when brushing alone is hard for patients to do even with electric toothbrushes.  Telling them now they don’t need to floss is an equivalent of reverting progress.  We were never the office that forced anything on anyone.  We only aim to educate.  To us, flossing is a supplement to brushing and maintaining proper gingival health.  It is not ineffective.  It is effective.  Very effective.

Don’t stop flossing because of one article.  Keep on flossing, please.  Gingivitis can lead to many other dental issues, including bad breath.  Flossing helps keep gingivitis at bay.  You want your gums to stay healthy and pretty in pink.  Don’t believe everything you read.  It’s a shame because from a dentist’s point of view, I don’t see how the money they spent on this research was meant to benefit patients.  Because in the end, the dentists that were associated with the study said, they still recommended flossing.