The Evidence Isn’t There
Back in 2014, dozens of leading periodontists — dentists who focus on the tissues surrounding your chompers — hunkered down for several days to evaluate at-home techniques for cleaning plaque between teeth.
Regarding floss, they considered findings from over 10 original studies, two systematic reviews of those studies and one meta-review of the reviews — in total, data from over 1,000 individuals. In 2015, the group published its conclusion in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology: “The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal.” Flossing was only advised when gaps between teeth are too small for inter-dental brushes, which seem to remove plaque more effectively.
And what about food that comes out when you floss? According to Iain Chapple, who led the 2014 group, flossing is basic hygiene, like washing your face. “We need to distinguish between hygiene and making health care claims,” he says.