Flossing vs. Gingivitis Review

To floss or not to floss? That may be the question you're asking in the mirror.

Even if you're brushing your teeth, there are benefits to saying yes to flossing, according to a recent scientific review. The systematic review, which included the results from 12 randomized controlled trials, concluded that regular flossing reduces signs of gingivitis—when coupled with regular tooth brushing.

The Cochrane review published online in December 2011 examined the effectiveness of brushing alone to flossing and brushing regularly in combating periodontal diseases and dental caries in study participants 16 years and older.

The effort was conducted because reviewers wanted to determine the effectiveness of regular flossing, which is commonly recommended and advertised as a dental cleaning aid.

“Patients are often rightly concerned about bleeding gums and this review shows that flossing is effective in reducing gingivitis and the tendency for gums to bleed,” Dr. Trevor Johnson, an author on the review, told the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association. Dr. Johnson is a research committee vice-chair at the Royal College of Surgeons in the United Kingdom.

The American Dental Association has public resources on flossing, “http://www.ada.org/5625.aspx?currentTab=1”, including a list of flosses bearing the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which meet ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Access the list at “www.ada.org/5266.aspx?category=Floss”.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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  • Proper brushing and flossing

  • Using antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash to kill bacteria

  • Biannual dental visits for cleanings and checkups