By Keshua, RDH
You may have read an Associated Press article claiming weak evidence for benefits of flossing. Although the common perception is that flossing reduces tooth decay, plaque and periodontal disease, AP points out that there has been surprisingly little scientific research to back that up. I would also point out that there is no published research to support the claim that wearing a parachute when jumping out of an airplane reduces the risk of injury. Some things just don’t require further study.
Dental floss is the only way to break up the biofilm (bacterial goo) that forms between your teeth. This is where cavities form and gum disease starts. As a dental professional, I can tell you that a $0.02 piece of floss a day can go a long way to improving your oral health. Not only does this save you the embarrassment of bad breath, decayed teeth, and that annoying piece of spinach no one bothered to tell you about, but flossing regularly saves you money and has a positive affect on your general health. There is, however, a ton of scientific evidence that chronic inflammation (such as that caused by caused by gum disease) affects the rest of our bodies. For example, we now understand that cholesterol forms plaques in arteries only in presence of inflammatory mediators. This is why there is direct correlation between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. The small investment of time it takes to floss each night pays enormous dividends in terms of your general health. It also reduces your bills at your dental visits by reducing the number and extent of restorations and periodontal therapy needed. So the jury is in on this one. Go ahead and floss your teeth every night. You won’t regret it.