It’s something that dentists have been recommending for decades.
And some people even say they feel guilty if they do not do it daily.
But is it really necessary to floss?
An investigation in the United States indicates that there is no conclusive evidence about the benefits of this habit in dental health.
The US Department of Health stopped recommending flossing this year and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom said it will revise its guidelines in the coming months.
However, cleaning at least once a day with dental floss remains among the recommendations of the United States Association of Dentists.
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What are the arguments?
The Associated Press (AP) news agency last year asked the US Department of Health to provide evidence on the benefits of dental floss in the prevention of tooth decay or gum disease.
The government recognized that the effectiveness of dental floss has never been properly investigated. And this year it eliminated its use of the recommendations at the federal level.
AP journalists also analyzed 25 studies in the last decade , which compared the unique use of the brush and brushing combined with the use of dental floss.
The effectiveness of dental floss according to these studies is “weak”, according to AP. Journalists also pointed out that some of the research work is of “low quality”, “unreliable”, or with possible lack of objectivity.
Some studies verified dental health during periods of just two weeks, little time to monitor the development of gum problems.
Procter & Gamble, which sells several brands of dental floss, ensures that this product combats gingivitis or inflammation of the gums and bacterial plaque.
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Marc Boston, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, said that flossing helps remove plaque, which hardens into tartar when it hardens. But the company did not comment after AP sent it a list of the studies analyzed, according to the US press.
Related Article: Benefits of flossing your teeth
Inter dental brushes
The Association of Dentists of the United Kingdom recommends as a first option the use of interdental brushes , which are small enough to clean the spaces between the teeth.
Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the Association, told the British press that the use of dental floss may be “of little value”.
” Small interdental brushes are prefer i bles, provided there is enough space between the teeth , ” Walmsley said.
“Flossing is of little value unless the teeth are so close together that the use of those brushes is not possible or causes pain.”
In the United Kingdom the National Health Service still notes on its site that the use of dental floss “helps prevent gum problems by allowing the removal of food debris and plaque “, which can cause inflammation.
But also warns that dental floss can cause damage to the gums if not used correctly .
Some specialists remember that dental floss should not be used in a “saw” movement between the teeth, but in movements from top to bottom and vice versa.
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The United States Association of Dentists continues to point out that flossing reduces the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay and recommends using it once a day.
Although there is no proof of the benefits of dental floss, some professionals will surely recommend it as a low cost option to remove food waste.
That there are no quality studies on the use of dental floss does not necessarily mean, after all, that in some cases it can not be effective.