Woman Flossing

Does Flossing Actually Prevent Cavities or Gum Disease?

There was an interesting news article circulating this week about how flossing hasn’t been scientifically proven to prevent either tooth decay or periodontal disease. Needless to say, we have been getting a lot of questions about that this week at Brickyard Dental Group.

I read the article and the author made some interesting points. There are actually not many quality definitive studies on whether or not flossing prevents tooth decay or periodontal disease.

So before I open up the proverbial can of worms, let me state unequivocally that I believe flossing does indeed help prevent dental decay in between teeth and it does indeed prevent periodontal disease. We know this to be true, regardless of whether a group of scientists have ever set up a test to see if they can prove or disprove this.

So why is there no scientific evidence proving or disproving the effectiveness of flossing? The bottom line is that scientists conduct research to answer questions and test hypotheses. These studies cost a lot of money. There is little interest in spending valuable research dollars to conduct a randomized, double blind clinical trial to prove something we have known to be effective for years and years. It would probably also be difficult to get approval to tell a group of patients to NOT floss for several years.

So flossing is still very important whether there are any studies to prove how effective it is or isn’t. But flossing is only part of the equation. It is still important to brush and have a professional cleaning and examination at your dentist.

I hope my sons don’t find out that there is no scientific evidence that shows bathing regularly is beneficial either. I would never hear the end of that one.