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For decades now, dentists have been recommending regular flossing as an essential part of oral hygiene.  Yet a recent investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that there is insufficient proof to back this up.  Yet in a statement released last week, the American Dental Association (ADA) has continued to defend flossing, saying that it’s still an essential part of tooth and gum care. 

Many dentists have said that flossing can help remove plaque, food build-up between the teeth, and reduce the risk of gingivitis, gum disease and tooth decay.  

Interdental cleaning, according to the ADA, has been proven to help remove debris between teeth, which can contribute to plaque build-up.  This is a sentiment shared by the UK’s National Health Service on its website.  Yet according to the Associated Press, the studies that back up the ADA’s claims are outdated, and only serve a small number of people.  Evaluations of the other studies conducted in the past ten years found evidence for flossing was “unreliable”.  Currently in the US, studies which evaluate the benefits of flossing can be funded and directed by flossing manufacturers, revealing an obvious bias.  If not done properly, flossing can indeed cause damage to gums, teeth and dental work, and can even cause harmful bacteria to be released into your bloodstream.  

Yet despite all of this, cleaning your teeth is still beneficial.  Even those skeptical of flossing say that cleaning between your teeth is good for you, whether that’s from floss or a toothpick.  Brushing your teeth is great, but your toothbrush isn’t going to be able to reach everything, which is where floss comes in handy.  According to the British Dental Association, the best thing for cleaning in-between teeth is small inter-dental brushes, unless the spaces between your teeth are too tight without causing your teeth harm.  Nonetheless, people still should floss.  It’s low-risk, doesn’t cost much, and there’s a possibility that it still works.  Several other countries still recommend flossing, such as the Argentine Ministry of Health and the Australian Dental Association.  

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