Report: Benefits Of Flossing Teeth Are ‘Unproven’

This article originally appeared and was published on

Unless you’re a perfect, rule-following model citizen, you’ve likely been chastised before for not flossing your teeth.

But a recent investigative report by the Associated Press is calling everything you’ve ever known about dental hygiene into question.

In an article published on Tuesday, AP writer Jeff Donn wrote that “there’s little proof that flossing works.”

Wait … what? Our dentists and our mothers were wrong this entire time?


Donn goes on to say that the AP had contacted the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services for corroborating data including “written requests under the Freedom of Information Act.”

Eventually, the AP received a note from the government admitting that “the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.”


However, if you’re one of the dedicated folks who has wasted cumulative days, if not years, of your life rubbing wax-covered string between your molars, worry not — there is a silver lining for you here.

Representatives of two major dental organizations, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology, have both acknowledged that the scientific evidence behind flossing is weak — and they still encourage people to keep doing it.


According to the American Dental Association, “floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it has a chance to harden into plaque. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces…(flossing) helps clean these hard-to-reach tooth surfaces and reduces the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay.”

So while it might not exactly be paramount for your health that you floss every single night, don’t toss your floss just yet.


Tim Iafolla, a dentist at the National Institutes of Health, summed up why he thinks people should still floss, despite what science may say, in a very simple manner — there’s very little risk and a large potential for reward.

“It’s low risk, low cost,” he told the AP. “We know there’s a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it.”

Well, when you put it that way … nope, still not going to do it.


More from

The worst types of Halloween candy for your teeth
Can stress actually cause you to lose your teeth?
11 best at-home teeth whitening treatments