In August of 2016, the Associated Press caused a stir when they released a report that questioned the credibility of one of the most popular suggestions for dental hygiene: flossing.
Since 1979, the federal government has recommended flossing. But just last year, the recommendation was removed from the website without notice, acknowledging that the evidence of flossing’s effectiveness has never been researched.
But according to several organizations and dental professionals, none of this means you should throw away the floss in your bathroom. In fact, one of the only reasons the benefits of flossing are questioned is because the studies used insufficient amounts of time to conduct their research.
But dentists aren’t so quick to throw away the recommendation.
The act of flossing still has benefits that other dental hygiene recommendations don’t. From reducing the chances of gum inflammation to simply cleaning between your teeth, flossing plays a critical part in a daily dental regimen.
Here are four ways flossing makes a difference:
Plaque might be one of the most common words in the dental world, and flossing has always been one of the most common ways to get rid of it. And, that remains true.
Flossing helps reduce the plaque that a toothbrush can’t reach. And without flossing, the chances of gum inflammation and other severe diseases can increase.
Helps Avoid Gum Disease
Although gum disease develops over time, flossing can help prevent early stages of gingivitis, which in turn diminishes the chances of bone loss, or periodontal disease.
Dr. Wayne Aldredge, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, still recommends flossing to his patients to prevent periodontal disease. “You don’t know if you’ll develop periodontal disease, and you can’t find out too late,” he’s told nytimes.com.
Cleans Hard-to-Reach Areas
Only three out of five surfaces on a single tooth can be reached with a toothbrush. The other two? Well, they require flossing.
Those hard-to-reach areas can be a breeding ground for bacteria, food and plaque — and floss can remove all of it. Small brushes, wooden or plastic picks and water flossers are alternatives to floss that you can use, too.
Prevents Bloody Gums
Many avoid flossing in fear it’ll make their gums bleed, but bleeding isn’t caused by the simple act of flossing — bleeding is usually due to a bacterial infection. So by adding flossing to your daily regimen, which helps reduce bacteria, bleeding gums can be prevented when paired with brushing twice a day.