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Twins study confirms benefits of flossing

Flossing can significantly reduce periodontal disease and cavity-causing bacteria, researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry concluded following a recent study of twins. The research provides new data about the importance of a flossing regimen in addition to daily brushing of the surfaces of the teeth and tongue.

The NYU researchers assembled 1,100 twin pairs that included both male and female identical and fraternal twins up to 21 years of age living in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the northeastern Brazilian city of Montes Claros, where inadequate water fluoridation and limited access to dental care put residents at risk for decay.

Researchers followed 51 well-matched twin pairs and their treatment responses to flossing over a two-week period. After that two-week period, periodontal pathogens and decay-causing bacteria were "overabundant" in the group that did not floss compared to the group that performed flossing.

"Twins who flossed had a significant decrease in gingival bleeding compared to twins who did not floss," the authors also noted. "Relative to baseline, bleeding scores were reduced by 38 percent over the two-week study period in the flossing group of twins."

Their study concluded that "In a well-matched twin cohort, tooth and tongue brushing plus flossing significantly decreased the abundance of microbial species associated with periodontal disease and dental caries after a two-week program."

Because they live together and have similar dietary habits and health practices, twins are considered excellent subjects for research that compares periodontal diseases and cavity development in people of the same age from similar environments.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

1/5/2009

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