The federal government recently removed the flossing recommendation from its 2016-17 dietary guidelines. Since the effectiveness of flossing has never been scientifically proven, the country is in question about whether flossing is truly necessary.

Dr. Jason Champagne, General Dentist and owner of Champagne Family Dentistry, addresses the issue and comments on the importance of flossing below.

While the effectiveness of flossing has not yet been proven, I see the benefits of flossing in my patients every day. The interproximal (in-between) surfaces of the teeth make up 40 percent of the total tooth surface.

Unfortunately, toothbrushes cannot reach those spaces. Most patients that say they floss regularly, often don’t floss properly, which is why studies show little to no benefit of flossing. The most important aspect of brushing and flossing is proper technique.

I see this quite often in practice. Patients tell me that they’ve been flossing, and I can see the trauma to their gums indicating they are telling us the truth. Unfortunately, improper technique can lead to residual plaque and subsequent gingival inflammation.

Weave a piece of floss in and out of each tooth gently, careful to address both sides of the gum and tooth.

Bleeding should not occur for regular flossers, but it is common for people who do not floss. In this case, be careful not to press hard into the gums, but rather lightly brush the inner portions of the tooth.

In the 2006 study, “Dental Flossing and Interproximal Caries: a System Review,” researchers wanted to see whether flossing at home had the same health benefits as being flossed by professionals. They recruited 808 children aged four to 13 and split them into three groups: children who were flossed by a professional five days a week; children who were flossed by a professional once every three months; and children who self-reportedly

The study lasted 18 months, and the findings were hardly surprising. Participants who were flossed professionally five days a week had a 40 percent decrease in their risk for cavities. The other two groups, those who were flossed professionally once every three months and the self-reported home flossers, did not show

While this might at first seem to give some fodder to the “Stop flossing!” crowd, it’s important to clarify what exactly the study is showing. The research concludes that proper flossing is key, not that flossing is ineffective.

Many people thought they were off the hook, but our team at Champagne Family Dentistry strongly encourages daily flossing for optimal oral health.

For questions and more health tips call us at 775-359-3934.