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I wish flossing didn’t work.

Recently, a lot of media attention has focused on a study that showed that flossing does not help prevent cavities. They studied individuals who did and did not floss over a certain period of time.

Oh great I thought — but then common sense hit me. My patients and I still need to floss. If only.


Floss Does Remove Plaque

If you have ever flossed, you will notice you pull out a lot of gunk, especially after eating a meal. This is plaque or remnants of dinner (yuck!).


We know for a fact that plaque causes decay. By brushing only, we miss these tight spaces in between teeth.

Most patients develop cavities in between their teeth where food and plaque gets stuck.


No Real Way To Test

You cannot create a perfect study where you force one group to floss and one group not too due to the risk of dire consequences. Actually this is unethical.

A lot of the patients that were used in those studies self reported, so there is actually no way to assess how well they flossed — did they floss all their teeth?


No Risk

You know that when you floss, plaque is removed — you can see it. Would you want to risk not doing this and eventually develop cavities?

The study published should be taken with a grain of salt. For me at least, my mouth feels a lot cleaner after I brush and floss.


Do you floss? What did you think about the latest media attention about not flossing?

Dr Kevin Ho
Dr Kevin Ho
Dr Kevin Ho is a Australian and Canadian Board Certified Dentist, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia

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