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Do we really need to floss?

Evidence for flossing may be flawed, NYT reports

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Is flossing overrated? In a statement issued Tuesday, the American Academy of Periodontology acknowledged that most current evidence for flossing maybe flawed, The New York Times reported.

The research fell short because not enough participants had been included and its effects on gum health had not been observed over a significant amount of time.

The latest dietary guidelines, issued by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, quietly dropped any mention of flossing without notice, the Times said.

The Times reported that a review of 12 trials published in 2011 found only “very unreliable” evidence that flossing might reduce plaque after one and three months. Researchers could not find any studies on the effectiveness of flossing combined with brushing for cavity prevention.

“It is very surprising that you have two habits, flossing and toothbrushing without fluoride, which are widely believed to prevent cavities and tooth loss, and yet we don’t have the randomized clinical trials to show they are effective,” Dr. Philippe Hujoel, a professor of oral health sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, told the Times.

The American Dental Association’s website says flossing “is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.”

There is some evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis, the Times said.

Severe periodontal disease may take five to 20 years to develop, the Time reported.