Flossing Over The Details

I barely floss, unless I have food stuck in my teeth, of course. I do a thorough brush of my teeth each and every morning, however, and sometimes use dental wash. But I’ve never regularly flossed my gums.

Incidentally, I’ve never had a cavity!

My dentist and dental hygienists always act so surprised whenever I disclose my shoddy flossing technique. Yet as this latest AP story details, the benefits of flossing might be overblown:

The federal government has recommended flossing since 1979, first in a surgeon general’s report and later in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued every five years. The guidelines must be based on scientific evidence, under the law.

Last year, The Associated Press asked the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for their evidence, and followed up with written requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines this year, the flossing recommendation had been removed, without notice. In a letter to the AP, the government acknowledged the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.

Maybe I was on to something after all!

I like how the federal government’s recommendation just quietly disappeared without fanfare.

“Nothing to see, here!”

According to the AP’s investigations, studies showing the value of flossing were “weak and unreliable.”

Later in the story, though, the moment of revelation is revealed on why the American Dental Association–(with tacit help from the government, I’d surmise)–always supported rigorous flossing:

Even companies with a big market share of the flossing business – by next year, the global market is predicted to reach almost $2 billion, with half in the United States, according to publisher MarketSizeInfo.com – struggled to provide convincing evidence of their claims that floss reduces plaque or gingivitis. Yet the industry has paid for most studies and sometimes designed and conducted the research.

Procter & Gamble, which claims that its floss fights plaque and gingivitis, pointed to a two-week study, which was discounted as irrelevant in the 2011 research review.

Johnson & Johnson spokesman Marc Boston said floss helps remove plaque. When the AP sent him a list of contradicting studies, he declined comment.

Government and big business collude once again, and this time it’s…flossing!

We should give the feds credit for rescinding the previous 37-year flossing recommendation, but one has to wonder if the recommendation would’ve been pulled if not for the AP investigation.

That doesn’t mean you stop caring your teeth.

Don’t be a “Yuck Mouth!”

pat@wsgw.com

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