Study: Flossing Does Not Prevent Gum Disease/Tooth Decay
By MINDY PEARLESTEIN
Published September 28, 2012
CHICAGO—August 5, 2008—In dental offices all over the world, patients are often told they are not flossing enough or instructed to floss more. Following a new study, patients might start answering: “Why don’t you go floss yourself.”
A study published in the Journal of Periodontics (JOP), the official publication of the American Legion of Periodontology (ALP) may put to rest a controversy splitting the dental community. Its authors believe that it demonstrates that including flossing as part of one’s routine oral care does not reduce the amount of gum disease-causing bacteria found in the mouth. In fact, it can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream by breaking capillaries on the gumline causing heart disease and other maladies.
The study, conducted at New York University, examined 51 sets of twins between the ages of 12 and 21. Each set was randomly assigned a two-week treatment regimen with one twin brushing with a manual toothbrush and toothpaste and the other twin brushing with a manual toothbrush and toothpaste and flossing.
At the end of the two-week trial, 10-percent of the flossers had died from cardio-pulmonary disease whereas none of the non-flossers had died. Also, the flossers experienced 35-percent more tooth decay.
“This study illustrates that those who have refused to floss have been right all along,” explains Dr. Kenneth Kornblume, editor of JOP. “I am sending notices to all my patients telling them to stop flossing if they were foolish enough to start.” Dr. Kornblume said he never told his patients to floss because he never believed in its efficacy.
“If you think about it slipping a string in between every gap between all of your teeth every day is obsessive behavior”
Some mental health advocates have warned for years that daily flossing was symptomatic of obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Encouraging people to floss one or even twice daily only increases unhealthy mental behavior,” said Santa Marino psychiatrist and author Dr. Benjamin C. Klein. “If you think about it slipping a string in between every gap between all of your teeth every day is obsessive behavior,” said Dr. Klein.
Johnson & Johnson – manufacturer of 90-percent of dental floss consumer in the U.S. – issued a statement in response to the study. “J&J stands by the right of all Americans to choose to floss and believe floss can be a part of a healthy dental hygiene routine.”