A reason to smile: new study looks at gum disease and the potential benefits of flossing
In time for National Dental Hygiene Month, we’re sharing the findings of a recent report that counters claims that the habit has no health benefits.
“Forget you, flossing!”
That was the message many people got after the Associated Press released a report last year that showed a lack of evidence to support the medical benefits of flossing.
But recent research conducted by the Janssen Research & Development Department of Epidemiology and Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. has found that flossing is associated with a lower prevalence of periodontitis.
Researchers found that people who flossed once or more each week were 17% less likely to have gum disease than those who flossed less frequently.
Unspooling the study findings
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, placed participants into three categories: those who flossed or used an interdental brush (a small brush used to clean between your teeth) zero to one time per week, two to four times a week, and five or more times each week.
After researchers adjusted for factors like age, gender and smoking, they found that people who flossed once or more each week were 17% less likely to have gum disease than those who flossed less frequently. They also determined that flossing one or more days a week reduced the risk for periodontitis by 23%, compared to not flossing at all.
Since this was a cross-sectional study—meaning it didn’t track subjects over a long period of time—a direct cause-and-effect relationship between flossing and gum disease could not be proven.
Nevertheless “it provides some assurance that there may be some benefit to flossing,” says the study’s co-author, Mike Lynch, D.M.D., Ph.D., Global Director of Oral Care and Fellow, Global Scientific Engagement, Johnson & Johnson.
So keep at it—your mouth may thank you later.