Dentists advocate flossing despite new study that claims it’s ineffective

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) A new AP report says there’s little proof that flossing is effective. It says the federal government has never researched how well it works.

It’s a question that you can’t avoid when you visit the dentist. How often do you floss?

“Not as often as I should but I try to do it daily,” said Carol Sabuda of Orchard Park.

Flossing has long been touted by dentists as a practice that helps prevent gum disease.

“Teeth have a contact they bump against each other so how do you clean the contact area the brush won’t do it. Devices won’t do it, you need something to get between that contact, so dental floss does go between the contact,” said Dr. Sebastian Ciancio, University at Buffalo Distinguished Service Professor and Chairman, Department of Periodontics and Endodontics.

A new Associated Press report found that the most rigorous research from the past decade focused on studies comparing the use of a toothbrush with the combination of tooth brushes and floss, turned up weak evidence. Despite the new report citing a lack of research, Dr. Ciancio says dental floss has been studied for decades. He says back in 1995 and 1996, two studies done at the University at Buffalo found that flossing reduces plaque and gingivitis by 12 to 15 percent.

“That little reduction is important because it’s an area between the teeth where gum disease starts and also where the teeth contact where dental decay starts,” said Dr. Ciancio.

He says both studies done at UB also found that flossing improved the health of gums by about 10 to 15 percent. Dr. Ciancio says though studies related to flossing haven’t been large, he’s afraid the new report could be misleading to patients.

“People don’t like to floss they absolutely don’t like to do it but if you say it probably doesn’t work now for sure they won’t floss,” said Dr. Ciancio.

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