Don’t Tell Your Patients To Stop Flossing Yet, CDA Says

Don’t Tell Your Patients To Stop Flossing Yet, CDA Says

There may be sparse evidence in the medical literature that flossing helps prevent cavities and gum disease, but the Canadian Dental Association says that, for dentists, the proof is in a patient’s mouth.

The Associated Press looked at the most rigorous research over the past decade and found the evidence of flossing having benefit was “weak, very unreliable,” and the studies were of “very low” quality. “The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal,” a 2015 review said.

But Dr. Larry Levin, president-elect of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), maintains that patients who follow a daily routine of flossing, brushing and using other plaque-removing devices have better overall oral health than those who don’t.

"Those who take shortcuts or perhaps don't take the time to do those things are finding they continue to have dental problems," he said, pointing to tooth decay and periodontal disease as the two most common repercussions of unchecked plaque buildup.

Plaque is a bacterial biofilm that occurs on the surfaces of teeth. When it reacts with sugar from the diet, an acid is formed that can eat into the teeth, causing cavities. Plaque buildup also can cause inflammation of the gums, or gingivitis, which left uncontrolled can lead to bone-destroying periodontitis.

Levin said the goal is to dislodge and remove as much plaque as possible with daily oral care.

"Whether you do that with a toothbrush or an interdental cleaner or floss or a little wooden stick or any other tool that might be helpful, once the plaque is being removed, you're going to have much better dental health than if you are leaving plaque in place to cause problems," he explained.

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 Source:  September 2017)