In the latest bit of conventional wisdom to be scrapped, the U.S. government has quietly dropped the recommendation that people floss their teeth every day.
The AP reports: “When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines this year, the flossing recommendation had been removed, without notice. In a letter to the AP, the government acknowledged the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.”
The move followed an inquiry last year by the AP with the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. The news organization asked for evidence of the effectiveness of flossing, and submitted written requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
“The federal government has recommended flossing since 1979, first in a surgeon general’s report and later in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued every five years,” the report notes. “The guidelines must be based on scientific evidence, under the law.”
The report adds: “The AP looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade, focusing on 25 studies that generally compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrushes and floss. The findings? The evidence for flossing is ‘weak, very unreliable,’ of ‘very low’ quality, and carries ‘a moderate to large potential for bias.'”