The Most Common Myths About Flossing, Part 1

Every profession has its share of myths to deal with. People love stories, and they love challenging conventional wisdom, especially if doing so means they don’t have to do something they didn’t want to do in the first place. We know that not everyone loves flossing, and we know that the question “Have you been flossing?” fills many a patient with anxiety; they know that we know that they haven’t been. We want you to floss – it’s really good for your teeth and gums, and it will mean less money spent at the dental office each year. Here are some myths floating around about flossing that need to be debunked.

Myth 1: You Don’t Need to Floss

This is the most pernicious flossing myth that’s been floating around recently. A CBC article, “No strong proof that flossing your teeth has medical benefit”, gives you the basis for the myth:  studies showing that flossing helps your teeth are kind of inadequate. That said, you should still floss. Years of dental experience tells us that it’s extraordinarily helpful, even where studies are lacking.

Why are studies lacking? One reason is that even scientific studies follow a do-no-harm mentality. One great way of studying the effects of flossing would be to have a control group, that is to say, a group of people who don’t floss, while another group does. That can be a problem because flossing is important for your health and you don’t want to tell people to stop flossing. You might also have challenges finding two groups of people with similar enough oral health to run the experiment.

Just because there isn’t a large body of scientific work backing a notion, doesn’t mean that notion is false. Let’s say I told you there’s no strong scientific proof that not breathing kills you – you wouldn’t stop breathing, because you intuitively know it’s necessary, and you don’t need a study to tell you. Having a control group for a no-breathing study would, at best, knock people unconscious, so it might not ever be done. In other words, trust us – flossing is good (it cleans parts of your mouth toothbrushes literally can’t reach, and there’s obvious evidence of that).

Myth 2: Flossing Hurts/Makes You Bleed

Okay, this isn’t so much a myth as it is a misconception, but potato potato as they say (that doesn’t work nearly as well in writing). You might find that flossing is uncomfortable or makes your gums bleed, but that doesn’t mean you should stop –  it means you should floss more! When flossing causes bleeding, it’s because your gums are inflamed from all the bacteria living inside them, gross, but true. As you continue to floss, you’ll notice the bleeding and discomfort will stop. You may also be flossing too vigorously so refine your technique!

There are a few other flossing myths that we need to tackle and we’ll do them in our next flossing myths article. For now, if you have any questions, get in contact with the professional dentists at our office. We are here for you!