According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), flossing is an integral part of a comprehensive oral health routine. The AAP is a leading dental group representing more than 8,000 periodontists, the recognized experts in diagnosing, treating, and preventing periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease. Although a recent report from the Associated Press found much of the research behind flossing's effectiveness on oral health to be weak or unreliable, periodontists agree that keeping the spaces between your teeth clean is paramount in ensuring healthy teeth and gums.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services removed flossing from the federal 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, citing the gap in quality research. However, the AAP continues to recommend daily flossing as part of a complete oral health regime. Along with brushing twice a day and receiving an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation, flossing is crucial to preventing periodontal disease.
According to Dr. Wayne Aldredge, President of the American Academy of Periodontology, "Gum disease is typically caused when prolonged exposure to bacteria in dental plaque causes an inflammatory reaction. Flossing is an effective and useful way to remove the plaque, especially in between the teeth or under the gum line-places where a toothbrush cannot reach."
Gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease, is often reversible with periodontal therapy and diligent home care. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into more severe periodontal disease, a leading cause of tooth loss that may also increase the risk of developing other systemic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50 percent of American adults age 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease.
"If you have bleeding gums, loose teeth, or bad breath, you may have gum disease," says Dr. Aldredge. "However, some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others, like those who smoke, people with diabetes, or those with a family history of gum disease. Therefore, it's essential that in addition to diligent oral hygiene-which includes flossing-patients receive an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation each year. Those diagnosed with or at risk for periodontal disease should seek the care of a periodontist, a dental expert specially trained to treat the gums."
To learn more about periodontal disease or to find a periodontist in your area, visit perio.org.
About the American Academy of Periodontology
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is an 8,200-member professional organization for periodontists-specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Periodontists are also dentistry's experts in the treatment of oral inflammation as well as the placement of dental implants, receiving three additional years of specialized training following dental school. Periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. For more information, visit perio.org.