Flossing might not actually be that important

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  • Phew.

    If you’re one of the six people in the UK who has been flossing every day, then this is going to be annoying for you. But if, like the vast majority of people, you’ve got a packet of floss languishing in your bathroom that you feel guilty about ignoring, then this is going to be some very exciting news.

    You’ll have been told but your dentist that flossing is important. Anyone who’s in the tooth business swears by it – even the American Dental Association say on their website that it’s an ‘essential’ part of oral hygiene. But it might all be about to change. US health officials have dropped the flossing advice, and the NHS are due to revisit their guidelines on in January after new research discovered that there’s no ‘proven benefit’ for your teeth when it comes to flossing.

    It doesn’t mean that you get to start slacking on the oral hygiene front, though. Professor Damian Walmsley, the British Dental Association’s scientific advisor weighed in, telling the Telegraph: ‘Small inter-dental brushes are preferable for cleaning the area in between the teeth, where there is space to do so. Floss is of little value unless the spaces between your teeth are too tight for the inter-dental brushes to fit without hurting or causing harm. It’s important to tell people to do the basics. Flossing is not part of the basics.’

    Even the politicians are getting in on the act now, with Diane Abbott, the shadow health secretary, saying: “For years we have been told that flossing is an essential part of caring for our teeth and gums. Now it turns out that the only people really benefiting were the dental floss manufacturers. Yet another healthcare myth bites the dust.”

    Hmm. We reckon it might be worth holding onto that floss, just in case.

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