August must be the sacrificial month for dentists. There are these articles in all sorts of publications, like the New York Times, NPR, and Washington Post, saying that there’s no proof that flossing works.

Whaaaa???? That is the sound of your dentist crying in defeat, by the way. Really sad. My hygienists are so mad, they’re like, slashing tires in the parking lot.

OK, so I actually did read the journal articles about it earlier this year. One of the premises in the reviews (and not mentioned here) was that most people don’t floss correctly, rendering the activity ineffective. Worse, some people were flossing in a technique that ended up damaging their gums.

There are some other major flaws to these studies, including length of study, the actual markers used (or not used), the overall focus of the studies (are we measuring decay or periodontal disease), and the consistency of techniques used. In short, the studies weren’t set up in a way to definitively answer the question as to whether flossing made a difference. To get the right answer, you have to ask the right question.

As a dentist who has looked at many mouths, I will say that effective flossing does make a difference so please floss your teeth. Clean teeth are happy, pretty, and healthy.

Plus, it has also been my experience that people who floss are sexier, smarter, healthier, and richer. JOIN THE CLUB!



Dr. Nancy Zeis has a cosmetic and family dental practice in Bloomington, MN. She flosses almost every day.