When the Freedom of Information Act was created to allow news organizations and other to get access to documents the government might otherwise like to keep in the dark, we rather doubt that its sponsors had an expose on flossing in mind.
But today the Associated Press, using a FOIA request, has exposed the dirty little secret your dentist has tried to keep while shaming you for not flossing daily.
There’s no evidence flossing is beneficial, the AP reports.
The AP looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade, focusing on 25 studies that generally compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrushes and floss. The findings? The evidence for flossing is “weak, very unreliable,” of “very low” quality, and carries “a moderate to large potential for bias.”
“The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal,” said one review conducted last year. Another 2015 review cites “inconsistent/weak evidence” for flossing and a “lack of efficacy.”
One study review in 2011 did credit floss with a slight reduction in gum inflammation — which can sometimes develop over time into full-fledged gum disease. However, the reviewers ranked the evidence as “very unreliable.” A commentary in a dental magazine stated that any benefit would be so minute it might not be noticed by users.
The federal government’s suggestion for daily flossing have now been removed from its dietary guidelines.
The head of a periodontists group, no doubt a puppet of Big Floss, has also acknowledged that there’s little evidence of a benefit from flossing.
Even companies with a big market share of the flossing business — by next year, the global market is predicted to reach almost $2 billion US, with half in the United States, according to publisher MarketSizeInfo.com — struggled to provide convincing evidence of their claims that floss reduces plaque or gingivitis. Yet the industry has paid for most studies and sometimes designed and conducted the research.
Procter & Gamble, which claims that its floss fights plaque and gingivitis, pointed to a two-week study, which was discounted as irrelevant in the 2011 research review.
Another federal agency’s dental expert says people should floss anyway because it might do some good.