Something to Sink Your Teeth Into

“Have you been flossing?” How many of us have heard that at the dentist’s office as we sheepishly turn away and murmur something like….”a little.” Well, numerous reports now suggest that flossing may be overrated.

From National Public Radio (NPR):

Flossing has quietly lost its place among recommendations for daily health, at least as prescribed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are issued every five years by the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture.

That could be because there’s scant evidence that flossing does much to keep teeth and gums healthy.

“In large epidemiological studies, the evidence for flossing turns out to be fairly weak,” says Tim Iafolla, a dentist with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

This latest turn in the floss debate grew out of an Associated Press (AP) investigation into the effectiveness of daily flossing. “The AP looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade, focusing on 25 studies that generally compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrushes and floss. The findings? The evidence for flossing is “weak, very unreliable,” of “very low” quality, and carries “a moderate to large potential for bias.”

The AP story added:

When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines this year, the flossing recommendation had been removed, without notice. In a letter to the AP, the government acknowledged the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.

Despite the latest news, The American Dental Association (ADA) insists that flossing is important. The ADA just released a statement that, in part, read: “interdental cleaners such as floss are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.”

Health beliefs we’ve long held to be true have come under scrutiny in recent years. Coffee and red wine are now widely believed to have health benefits – while flossing is now getting the cold shoulder.

Share your thoughts on these changes and whether you believe they will alter the health behaviors of people living in our state. We are continuously looking for new ways to drive better health in Arizona because the more we focus on better health…..the sooner we can reach our goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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