Research Finds Studies on Flossing Lack Evidence

October 1, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. plaque / plæk / (n.) – whitish substance that forms on the teeth
Example: Always brush your teeth to prevent plaque.

2. unfavorable / ʌnˈfeɪ vər ə bəl / (adj.) – negative or not wanted
Example: The company received unfavorable feedback regarding the new medicine.

3. concrete / ˈkɒn krit / (adj.) – based on facts
Example: The study was criticized because the evidence it presented was not concrete.

4. measure / ˈmɛʒ ər / (n.) – action done to achieve a certain result
Example: They will implement stronger safety measures to avoid accidents.

5. echo / ˈɛk oʊ / [EK-oh] (v.) – to express the same opinion as someone else
Example: The dentist echoed the dental association’s belief about flossing.


Read the text below.
An investigation by news organization Associated Press (AP) found weak evidence of the effectiveness of dental floss.

To gather data on the effectiveness of dental floss, journalists from AP interviewed the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture. In addition, they looked into 25 studies on dental flossing. They found that the evidence supporting the benefits of dental flossing is weak and very unreliable.

It was discovered that studies failed to prove that dental flossing is effective in plaque removal. These unfavorable results led the US government to silently remove its recommendation for daily flossing.

One of dental flossing’s critics is British dentist Damien Walmsley [DEY-mee-uh n WALMS-ley]. According to him, there is no concrete evidence that dental flossing helps prevent gum disease. He said that more reliable studies are needed to get good evidence. Walmsley also noted that flossing is not part of basic oral care.

While other dentists agree on the findings, some continue to recommend the use of dental floss. Dr. Paulo Camargo, associate dean of clinical dental sciences at the UCLA School of Dentistry, said that flossing is a preventive measure. He noted that brushing alone does not remove bacteria from the spaces between teeth. Some dental floss manufacturers have echoed this belief by asserting that flossing fights dental issues such as plaque and gingivitis. Mark Boston, a spokesperson for industry giant Johnson & Johnson, said that dental floss helps remove plaque. However, when AP presented him with a list of conflicting studies, Boston refused to comment further.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         After reading this article, would you still use or recommend the use of dental floss?
·         Do you think that other countries should also stop recommending the use of dental floss?

Discussion B

·         In caring for one’s body, is it better to listen to experts (e.g. doctors) or just follow common practice?
·         Why do you think some people prefer not to go to doctors? 

October 1, 2016