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To Floss or Not to Floss …

By Jill Feilmeier on August 9, 2016 in Dental Health


Don’t throw out your dental floss just yet, anti-flossers. The U.S. Department of Health's latest updates to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans publication excluding the recommendation to floss, coupled with the Associated Press' review of several existing studies on flossing are causing quite the stir — and just in time for sweet corn season.

It's true, the published evidence to support the effectiveness of flossing to prevent gum disease or tooth decay is weak at best. This is pretty well known in the industry. But, there's an old saying in the evidence-based game “lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean lack of effectiveness.”

Here's what we do know: flossing done correctly and regularly is an affordable and easy way to remove plaque, a major cause of both tooth decay and gum disease. It’s especially important at a time of year when you may be enjoying sweet corn, grilled meats and all that gastronomic events like the Iowa State Fair have to offer.

“Even in the absence of solid evidence to support flossing, if you follow this simple practice each day, along with basic good habits like daily brushing, using a fluoride toothpaste, eating a healthy diet and not smoking, and of course, getting regular dental check-ups, you are making strides toward preventing gum disease and tooth decay,” said Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin, dental director of Delta Dental of Iowa. “If you aren't sure if you're flossing correctly, make sure to ask at your next dental appointment.”

The bottom line is that having last night's dinner in between your teeth is neither good for your oral health nor appealing to those with whom you interact. Our simple advice: keep on flossing, Iowa.

Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin, DDS, MPH, MBA, MHA

Vice-President / Dental Director

Delta Dental of Iowa

Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin Headshot

Dr. Chaffin is the Vice-President and Dental Director for Delta Dental of Iowa. Dr. Chaffin is a Diplomat of the American Board of Dental Public Health, a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Fellow of the International College of Dentistry, a member of the Official Order of Military Medical Merit (O2M3), and he holds The Surgeon General's “A” designator for excellence in Dental Public Health.  He currently serves on the board of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation.