5 Things Your Patients Should Know About the AP Flossing Report


A lot of dental pros have gotten their scrubs in a bunch over the recent Associated Press Flossing Report stating that the evidence for flossing is weak.

For patients who have a love-hate relationship with floss (mostly hate), this report may have seemed like the best news ever.

Frustrating, right?

Well, think about the bright side to the flossing controversy. Flossing has now become a hot topic in hallways and at dinner tables across the nation. No one was talking about it before!

If your patients question you on the value of flossing at their next appointment, here are 5 points you can make …

1. Studies Are Complex

Acknowledge the fact that it’s true: there aren’t many well-controlled studies to support flossing. Why? Because periodontal disease is complex and slow-forming.

A study would have to go on for years and have many difficult-to-control variables, from the subjects’ brushing frequency and technique to health habits and lifestyle factors. It’s not that the report is saying flossing is bad; there just aren’t the studies to support it.

2. Avoid a Plaque Attack

Flossing DOES remove plaque. Plaque buildup leads to periodontal disease. Therefore, common sense thinking would say that when you remove more plaque, you lower your risk of periodontal disease!

3. Smile with Confidence

Anyone who’s ever eaten a container of seaweed or a kale salad knows … sometimes a toothbrush cannot reach those crevices. Plus, it just feels downright icky having food stuck in the teeth. Don’t want people looking at green stuff in your teeth? Keep flossing!


4. Have Good Technique

Many people don’t use proper technique when flossing, which can limit the benefits and actually damage gums and dental work. Often, it’s the quick, harsh back-and-forth sawing method that gets people into trouble. It doesn’t matter the age of your patient­– it’s always great to give a quick refresh on proper flossing technique.

5. Fight Bad Breath

Suggest to those patients who are not keen on flossing to get into their back molars (when they’re in the privacy of their home) and then take a sniff of the floss. When they learn that the same smell could be emanating from their mouths, they may be more inclined to get back into the flossing habit for the sake of their breath!

What are your thoughts on the Flossing Report? Are you seeing a silver lining in your practice?

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