If you’ve listened to the news recently, you may have heard some media and health organizations reporting that flossing is now a less essential activity. Part of what started the chatter is that flossing was left out of the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. This was an omission that has been misinterpreted by various entities to mean that flossing is not as important as once believed.
In response to the uproar, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a statement this month confirming that cleaning between teeth with floss, combined with regular tooth brushing and professional cleanings, has been shown to disrupt and remove plaque. They also stated that, “since neither the 2010 nor 2015 Advisory Committees [for the dietary guidelines] reviewed evidence on brushing and flossing teeth, the authors of the current edition decided not to carry forward the information on brushing and flossing included in past editions of the guidelines.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services went on to state that the omission was not at all implying that flossing is no longer an important oral hygiene practice. Rather,they reaffirmed that “professional cleaning, tooth brushing, and cleaning between teeth (flossing and the use of other tools such as interdental brushes) have been shown to disrupt and remove plaque.”
This is a viewpoint confirmed by the American Dental Association, which continues to recommend interdental cleaners as an essential part of an oral health routine. The ADA states on its website that interdental cleaners such as dental floss are proven to help remove debris between teeth that can contribute to plaque buildup. In fact, the ADA continues to recommend the following:
• Brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time
• Using a toothpaste containing fluoride
• Cleaning between the teeth once a day with an interdental cleaner (such as dental floss)
• Scheduling regular dental visits according to the recommendations of your dentist
At Rodeo Dental, we want to reiterate to our patients that flossing is still an important – in fact, an essential – part of a daily oral hygiene routine. We see over and over again that flossing reduces gum inflammation and bleeding (gingivitis) in our patients, and we also know that your toothbrush alone can’t reach all of the surfaces of your teeth.
We recommend the following tips when flossing:
• Use about 18 inches of floss so you can wind it around your fingers
• Rub the floss gently against your tooth and below the gum line, holding it in a C shape
• Use an up and down motion to remove plaque, moving away from the gums and up the tooth
• Choose a waxed variety if your teeth are very close together and hard to floss
• For children, begin flossing your their teeth when they touch and show younger kids how to properly hold the floss
If you have trouble holding regular dental floss or if you have young children, consider disposable flossers. These small tools have a handle that makes flossing much easier for tiny fingers and for people with arthritis or other health conditions. They are also available in fun colors and flavors to help make flossing less of a battle.