By Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD
The Toothboss,

A few years back, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture removed their flossing recommendation from dietary guidelines. This change was precipitated by a media request that revealed that the effectiveness of flossing has never been researched and no data confirming its benefits has been produced. That regrettable removal had had many patients wondering:
Should I continue to floss?
After the removal, this question became even more prominent. The Associated Press, the media outlet that made the initial inquiry, launched its own research into the subject. The AP looked at 25 studies that addressed the benefits of flossing with and without brushing. The results revealed the evidence of flossing benefits as “weak, very unreliable.”
At the Toothboss, we have always been and will continue to be big proponents of flossing. Yet it is quite understandable that it’s difficult to prove the benefits of flossing for a few significant reasons:

  • Everybody’s mouth is different
  • Not everybody flosses the exact same way
  • Not everybody flosses correctly
    Anecdotally speaking, I feel comfortable in stating that the patients we see who do floss have fewer issues than those who don’t.
    Besides using the incorrect flossing technique – pulling matter away from the gaps between teeth rather pulling the floss straight across – patients can also fall into other habits that minimize effectiveness. For example, some patients may require flossing after every meal but only floss once per day. Or, perhaps patients floss every other day.
    Flossing may not be perfect in removing food and plaque between your teeth, but it certainly is more effective than doing nothing at all. That’s why we recommend flossing after every meal as one part of a multi-pronged approach to oral care.
    In addition to flossing, we recommend brushing a minimum of two times per day for a minimum of two minutes per session. These are two areas where many patients fall short: brushing less than twice a day or for time periods shorter than two minutes per session.
    We encourage patients to also use WaterPiks, air floss, and other removal tools. Most importantly though, we believe in regular checkups with your dentist every six months. Some seniors may need even more than two per year.
    The biggest reason for checkups every six months for seniors is to stay on top of any pain or other issues. With the regular, six-month checkup, it’s also easier for us to see if your daily habits are inconsistent or your technique is flawed. This helps us correct those techniques and get in front of any problems.
    If not having a dental plan is an issue for you not getting to the dentist every six months, no worries. The Toothboss offers something called The Toothboss Discount Plan (TBD). With TBD, for a nominal annual fee, you will receive two free simple cleanings, two free complete dental exams, free x-rays, plus a 20% discount on most dental procedures. This represents a significant savings over a traditional dental plan. Additional child family members can join too, for a lesser fee (about 30% less).
    For more information, give our office a call.
    About the Author: Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD is the owner of The Toothboss, 1121 Main St., South Weymouth. For more information, call 781-335-0604 or visit