Does flossing work?

A small, white, round flossing container lays on a gray surface with a few inches of floss pulled out.

It seems this question wouldn’t cause so much controversy, but it has been in the news lately.

“There is little proof flossing protects your teeth or gums” Headline from

It seems scientific studies cited by these reputable news sources are showing no benefit to flossing. Even Public Health England declared there was no value in flossing.

However, every trip to the dentist includes instruction on flossing, free samples of floss and flossing done by the hygienist as part of the cleaning. It is stated as the great preventer of gingivitis and other disease. So is flossing some great conspiracy perpetrated by the dental industry?

No. The truth is, flossing does indeed clean the surfaces of the tooth that a standard bristle toothbrush can’t reach. Floss is designed to remove the bacteria from between your teeth, bacteria that can cause cavities, gingivitis and can lead to gum disease.

So where is the research?

The research many of these scientists are doing are related to the fact that less than a third of American’s actually floss despite the recommendations to do so daily to prevent gingivitis. It is also based on scientific methods of research, meaning they are making the claim based not on the facts that flossing doesn’t work, but based on the fact that there isn’t enough scientific evidence that it does. Let’s keep in mind other areas of our belief system that also lack scientific evidence (such as faith). The bottom line is that we see a clear difference in patients who have flossing as a regular habit and those who don’t.

“Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” Source: American Dental Association

We see proof every day in our office that flossing works. It comes through our observation of the following benefits:

  • Reduces periodontal disease
  • Reduces/ eliminates gingivitis
  • Removes plaque and bacteria
  • Reduces likelihood of cavities
  • Reduces bleeding gums
  • It cleans between the teeth where the toothbrush doesn’t reach
  • It removes pieces of food that can be painfully lodged there

Understanding Gingivitis

Gum inflammation is the common term to describe gingivitis. The gums become inflamed due to plague build up, which can be reduced and/or eliminated with brushing and flossing. Untreated, the gums will bleed when brushing and can lead to periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease. Signs of gum disease includes bone or tissue damage that can be in the form of loose teeth, pockets in the gums near teeth, bleeding, bad breath and more. Some effects of gum disease can be irreversible, which is why addressing gingivitis early is so important.

If you want to prevent gingivitis, learn to floss properly or have questions about oral care, please give us a call today. We are happy to discuss these topics with you and even provide a review of your oral health goals and/or concerns in a safe, non-judgmental environment. It is our goal to help you achieve optimum oral health.

Peter McIntyre DDS is an office of premier Colorado Springs Dentists ready to serve you and your family’s dental health needs. We invite you to learn more about us by giving us a call today!

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