Recent news has suggested that flossing may not be all that important. This news is based on an article by the Associated Press news agency, entitled: “Medical benefits of dental floss unproven”.
The article suggests that the number of studies supporting flossing is very small, short-term, inconsistent and, shall we say, unreliable.
And this isn't the first time the benefits of flossing have been questioned.
Last year, a Daily Mail article started a similar wave of news after publishing that "Flossing is a waste of time!"
The Daily Mail article said that a study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found no evidence that cleaning between the teeth helps with gingivitis.
But here's the study's real takeaway: "All devices investigated for interdental self-care appear to help maintain gingivitis."
To be fair, the evidence for the effectiveness of flossing is somewhat mixed: some previous studies have found little evidence that flossing makes a difference in oral health, while others suggest that the practice significantly reduces the onset of gingivitis.
Even the American Academy of Periodontology acknowledges that the research is inconclusive. In a statement released yesterday, the group says that because gingivitis progresses so slowly, studies must be carried out over many years - and most current research, until now, has not followed patients for that long.
But even if the evidence isn't yet proven, that doesn't mean flossing is totally useless.
The top three experts we consulted last year when this news first started circulating confirmed: Yes, you should clean between your teeth.
This is one of the most important practices for keeping your mouth healthy. That's because the bristles of your toothbrush can't reach the narrow space between your shiny white teeth. Bacterial plaques accumulate in these spaces.
These germs produce acids, which irritate your gums and can cause gingivitis. The progression of gingivitis can lead to tooth loss
So by getting dirt out between your teeth, you reduce the amount of bacteria — and as a result, your risk of developing gingivitis.
This withdrawal does not necessarily need to be flossed. You can also use mini toothbrushes, designed to reach spaces between teeth, special wooden or plastic spatulas or water flosser.
The best tool will depend on the size of the spaces between your teeth, which one you like to use and whether you use the right technique, so talk to your dentist about which method is right for you.