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article imageIs the use of dental floss a waste of time?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 7, 2016 in Health
This week a major health news story from the U.S. was released, suggesting that flossing teeth each day was of no benefit. The news has sparked disagreement in the dental world.
For many years governments, dental organisations and manufacturers of floss have recommended the use of dental floss to protect teeth. This is based around flossing helping to remove food particles. Food particles provide a food source to bacteria, and the growth of oral bacteria leads to plaque formation.
This guidance may not be appropriate following an investigation by Associated Press. The news agency asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for the accumulated evidence that flossing works.
The journalists examined research conducted an approximate ten year period (made up of 25 studies.) The research considered the use of a toothbrush compared with the combination of toothbrushes and floss.
The outcome was that there was no evidence that flossing works. At the same time, the U.S. government has dropped the recommendation and has admitted, according to The Guardian, there is no scientific evidence to prove the benefits of flossing.
STAT (@statnews) "Dentists may harp on it, but here's the truth: There’s little proof that flossing works."
However, not all dentists support the data and argue that the findings are unrepresentative. The main criticisms with the findings are that the supporting analysis has not been provided in terms of the ages and genders of the people surveyed. In addition, data relating to the state of the study participants teeth at the start of the study and supporting information, such as the socio-economic status of those involved, is missing.
The critics included the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association. The dental body states that, in light of robust evidence, people should continue to use of dental floss as well as other dental aids, such as power toothbrushes and interdental brushes. These techniques are necessary to remove food from the surface of teeth.
The Association points out that the majority of the studies reviewed were conducted over a time span of only two to three months, which is not sufficiently long enough to assess overall oral health.
Biotechnology (@Biotechnology) "Fiery New Report Says Flossing Has No Proven Benefits—Experts Are Livid."
A spokesperson from the Association, Mary Bertone said: “Dental hygienists play a critical role in assessing their clients’ oral health and working with them to develop the most effective home care strategies to keep their mouths healthy and reduce the amount of disease-causing bacteria.”
More about Dental floss, Teeth, Brushing, gums, Oral health
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