The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture has issued the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, where the epidemiological effect of flossing was considered “fairly weak.”
The announcement comes from a request by The Associated Press, as they solicited proof of the benefits of flossing to the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, after citing 25 reports that label flossing as a lackluster measure for preventing cavities and gum disease.
The claim is based on a study published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2011, where dental floss proved to be unsatisfactory in reducing the incidence of gum inflammation, the first step into developing severe gum disease.
No need to feel guilty about not flossing anymore
“There is weak, very unreliable evidence from 10 studies that flossing plus toothbrushing may be associated with a small reduction in plaque at 1 and 3 months,” the study reads.
Flossing has been advised by the American Dental Association (ADA) for almost 40 years, but the recommendations present in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans must have strong scientific evidence to back them up. These guidelines are updated every five years.
The ADA alongside the American Academy of Periodontology referred to other studies that defended the effectiveness of flossing. The problem is that these studies did not last long, and others surveyed very few people after they had flossed only once, besides mostly focusing the research results on the incidence of bleeding and inflammation.
Authorities acknowledged the claim’s validity but continued to recommend flossing as a method to avoid plaque accumulation and to remove food and dirt remnants from between each tooth.
What will be of dental floss?
According to AP, the global dental floss industry is worth an estimated $2 billion, where half of its market lies in the U.S. Reporters confronted industry spokespersons including Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson Associates and cited study results. The officials refused to comment. It all seems to be a ploy where the ADA charges for putting their seal on promoted products. AP writer Jeff Donn asserts that each approved product results in a total of $18,000 going towards the American Dental Association. ADA claims that the program does not lead to profits.
AP reporters confronted industry spokespersons including Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson Associates and cited study results. The officials refused to comment. It all seems to be a ploy as the ADA charges for putting their seal on promoted products. AP writer Jeff Donn asserts that each approved product results in a total of $18,000 going towards the American Dental Association. ADA claims that the program does not lead to profits.
ADA spokesman Dr. Edmond R. Hewlett stated that both brushing and flossing help get rid of the bacteria related to plaque, although there is still a lack of consistent proof supporting the claim. Studies
“assume” this theory, supported by the fact that the toothbrush is never able to reach the in-between crevices of the teeth, being a common location for gum disease and cavities to appear.
In spite of the logic on “reaching where toothbrushes cannot” and claiming that floss has some effect on a statistical level, the 2011 Cochrane study claims that “trials were of poor quality and conclusions must be viewed as unreliable.”
It also suggests that there was not enough information on measurements that could support the claim that flossing significantly reduced the incidence of gum disease and tooth decay. The study cites time elapsed by the survey as the main issue, as detecting the first stages of tooth decay is hard when it comes to the space between each tooth.
Source: Associated Press