If you’re not a flosser, then you’ve been here before. Somewhat panicked a few hours before your appointment, thinking about the moment when Dr. Terry Dactyl asks, and you subsequently lie about your flossing habits. Why bother? The fresh breath and swollen, bloodied gums are a dead giveaway that you’re the most disappointing patient on Earth. But not so fast! A new finding indicates that dentists may have been wrong this whole time because there’s hardly any proof that flossing is beneficial!
Since 1979, it has been recommended by the Surgeon General and then the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (which is supposedly based on scientific evidence) that we floss. That recommendation was renewed annually, until last year when it quietly disappeared. Not coincidentally, shortly before the recommendation vanished, The Associated Press asked the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for their evidence supporting the recommendation. The federal government penned a letter to the AP stating that the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched as required.
Say what!? Yep, all those stern looks and guilt you’ve endured once a year since the beginning of time have been for nothing! As it happens, the studies used to support habitual flossing were crap. The AP found the studies were weak, unreliable, low quality, and carried potential for bias. For example, one study only lasted for two weeks and another merely examined a group of 25 people who flossed one single time.