Furthermore, even if it doesn't help with cavities prevention, it's still helpful to prevent gingivitis.
Turns out, all that flossing may be overrated.
The latest dietary guidelines for Americans, issued by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, quietly dropped any mention of flossing without notice. This week, The Associated Press reported that officials had never researched the effectiveness of regular flossing, as required, before cajoling Americans to do it.
[...] The revelation has caused a stir among guilt-ridden citizens who strive to floss daily but fall short of that lofty goal. Among experts, however, it has been something of an open secret that flossing has not been shown to prevent cavities or severe periodontal disease.
[...] If it is any consolation, there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis. That Cochrane review found that regular brushers and flossers had less gum bleeding than people who only brushed, although the authors cautioned that the quality of the evidence was “very low.”
Early gingivitis is a long way from severe periodontal disease. Still, some dentists argue that despite a lack of rigorous study, flossing matters if it can reverse initial gum problems.
“Gum inflammation progresses to periodontitis, which is bone loss, so the logic is if we can reduce gingivitis, we’ll reduce the progression to bone loss,” said Dr. Sebastian G. Ciancio, the chairman of the department of periodontology at the University at Buffalo.
Severe periodontal disease may take five to 20 years to develop.
“It’s a very insidious, slow, bone-melting disease,” said Dr. Wayne Aldredge, the president of the American Academy of Periodontology, who practices in Holmdel, N.J.
Even without rigorous evidence that flossing prevents late-stage periodontal disease, Dr. Aldredge urges his patients to floss. Those who quit are “rolling the dice,” he said.
“You don’t know if you’ll develop periodontal disease, and you can find out too late,” he said.