Tuesday 20 March 2018

Put away the dental floss... it's not an essential part of oral hygiene after all

Medical benefits of dental floss unproven
Medical benefits of dental floss unproven

Sasha Brady & Independent.ie Agencies

Is flossing an important part of dental hygiene?

Apparently not.

On Tuesday, the US federal government admitted that there is little evidence that using dental floss every day prevents gum disease and cavities.

The acknowledgement came after a US Freedom of Information request was made to the American health, human services and agriculture departments regarding evidence for the health benefits of flossing.

And an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that there is insufficient proof to back up the claim that flossing is an essential part of oral hygiene.

Examinations of other studies conducting in the past ten years found evidence for flossing was "unreliable", "very low quality" and there was a "moderate to large potential for bias".

One review conducted last year said: "The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal."

The President of the Irish Dental Association Dr PJ Byrne told Independent.ie that he believed that no universal method of oral hygiene technique is applicable to an individual patient and this definitely applies to methods of cleaning between your teeth.

Modern oral healthcare providers will usually recommend a variety of methods depending on the individual patients needs but there has been evidence to support the benefits of inter dental brushes for effective cleaning of the teeth.

“There is a lack of modern scientific evidence in terms of the reduction of dental decay between the teeth achieved as a result of flossing and that probably explains its omission from the new US guidelines. The other key factor is that there have been huge advances in the development of inter dental brushes and these are now probably more effective in preventing or controlling gum disease," said Dr Byrne.

"However floss or special types of floss may have a role in particular circumstances for patients.“

Dr Byrne, who specialises in the area of peridontology (gum disease), said that in terms of dental decay reducing the frequency of sugar intake is vital and the most important factor in minimising the risk of decay.

“If you have any specific concerns with regard to gum health, your dentist or hygienist will be able to provide advice on the most appropriate methods to suit your individual needs” he said.

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