Even as a Vancouver pediatric dentist, our team at Must Love Kids knows how many of all ages patients truly dislike having floss every day. Roughly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. fail to floss every day, with 10 percent claiming they don’t floss at all, according to studies conducted by the American Dental Association.
While the ADA doesn’t have any numbers to show how many kids floss on a daily basis, it would seem unlikely that parents who don’t floss would force their children to engage in a habit they clearly dislike.
It must have come as quite the pleasant surprise when the Associated Press released the findings of an in-depth academic review that found no evidence to support the need to floss. The AP’s review found “no significant” evidence to support claims made by the oral health community purporting the inherent benefits of flossing, nor did the review find any evidence that suggested flossing improves oral health.
While this might seem like great news for those who can’t stand the habit of flossing, you should wait a minute before you toss your floss into the trash. The oral health of you and your kids could still be at risk by not flossing, no matter what the research may suggest.
Let’s take a moment to consider what the AP “uncovered” and then examine what that really means for your oral health.
No Evidence Means No Reason to Floss, Right?
No, not exactly. For one, it’s not like the oral health community was unaware that a lack of compelling evidence that showed the inherent benefits of flossing didn’t exist. Trying to develop a study that would accurately determine flossing’s effectiveness over the long-term is prohibitive – a fact we’ll cover in just a moment – and flossing offers a variety of short-term benefits such as fresher breath.
So Why Is Evidence So Hard to Find?
Trying to create a comprehensive study that accurately measures the effectiveness of flossing would be incredibly hard to accomplish for a number of reasons.
First, try to imagine organizing a study with a random group of adults and successfully assigning them the task of flossing every day for three to five years. As mentioned earlier, a significant number of adults already admit to failing to floss every day, so how could researchers every guarantee their test group would stay committed to the process.
Conversely, what about the control group? Could you find a group of adults you know wouldn’t floss EVER during that same period of time, not even if they got something stuck between their teeth?
It’s a slippery slope without a lot of convenient answers. So when the AP makes headlines by saying flossing has no real value, people are quick to agree because they dislike the habit anyway.
So Why Should My Kids and Me Floss?
Easy, while no clear evidence may exist that shows the benefits of flossing, there’s plenty of evidence that shows the dangers of dental plaque.
Children and adults have a significantly higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease when suffering from excessive plaque buildup, an area flossing can definitely help with by removing plaque from areas your toothbrush cannot reach – between your teeth and below the gum line.
While you or your kids might not love flossing, your Vancouver pediatric dentist wants you to know that it’s still a healthy habit that you really should take more seriously.