Flossing is bullshit

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/02/flossing-is-bullshit.html


Well, okay, even assuming that maybe flossing doesn’t have a major effect on plaque build-up, NOT flossing does have the major effect of leaving rotting food stuck between the teeth, awful breath, and gum irritation. So why in the world is the AP pursuing this? Are they looking to take down the Big Floss lobby?


Lack of evidence doesn’t mean it’s not actually helpful. It definitely reduces my gum inflammation when I do it.

That, of course, is anecdotal evidence, but since it’s my own anecdote, it’s good enough for me.

I would bet that more carefully run studies would demonstrate benefit, possibly only to certain sorts of subjects (prone to gingivitis, for example, like I am). But science, you know - any assumption I make may be wrong.


My own anecdotal evidence also says flossing is very effective at improving my gum health and eliminating bad breath. Maybe it’s not studied much because it’s so obvious that it’s effective.


Flossing, for me, has the desired effects cited by the posters above. And at least for now, the most important effect is that if I floss regularly, and even step it up the week before a dental visit, my hygienist draws a lot less blood and shame from me.


I had a co-worker who never flossed, and his breath was always horrible. Then one day he started flossing, and the bad breath went away. Anecdotal, sure, but I still believe it because there is a logic to “rotting food stuck between your teeth” correlating with bad breath.


I hate hate hate flossing. So I don’t do it. But my gums suck. Soo - should I convince myself to start doing it again, or am I cool now?


My dentists for the past 20-30 years have given me a litany of reasons to floss daily: to remove debris between the teeth, to strengthen gums, and to combat gingivitis. When I go in for a checkup, my dentist can tell with just a few pokes whether my gums are healthy or not, and that’s directly related to how often I remembered to floss.

The new floss picks (including the ones hawked by BoingBoing!) do an even better job. Maybe Cory should check with Mark about their effectiveness?


Some years ago, not being a flosser and having dodgy gums, a bit of meat got tucked between two of my teeth, rotted over a few days, and introduced some really nasty bacteria into my bloodstream, causing a near-fatal endocarditis. It’s not statistically significant, but it’s significant to me. So I floss now.


Seriously, when did Cory transition from thoughtful commentator to clickbait author? The title is misleading and wildly exaggerated.


Late stage capitalism…


'Scuse me, you have bullshit between your teeth.


To be fair, letting us telecommute could solve the same problem. :speaking_head::mask:


I totally call BS on saying that flossing is BS. Some of us have teefs that are pretty tightly packed into our jaws. Just brushing doesn’t get rid of the stuff that gets stuck in between.


I think/hope it’s just a joke. But the point of the article is well taken: just because something is “obviously true” shouldn’t waive it from having to be seriously examined.

I’m terrible at flossing…except that I have a couple of crowns that have gaps under them, so I almost always floss (or toothpick) those after a meal because food gets under them and actually hurts me until I remove it. But I rarely bother to floss any other teeth.


I got one of those water pick things, and while it’s some nuisance to use (I’d say it’s more effort than doing an unsatisfactory flossing, but much easier than doing the kind of flossing the dentist recommends) and certainly feels like it’s doing a better job. Just make sure to get one that has a slide-type button on the handle, rather than a push-in-type button. The latter ones constantly get stuck and make the device more trouble than it’s worth.

For those of you upset with the title, here’s a less concern-trollable title:

But with plenty of derision in the text:

For many, taking the time to floss every day is a bother. But for dentists, taking the time to properly research flossing over the course of a century is apparently even more inconvenient.


pro-tip: never ever use the term “too many teeth” for Google image search


I don’t…understand where people are coming from here, talking about how flossing helped their gums etc.
I never floss, never get gingivitis and certainly never developed terrible breath or dental caries between my teeth.
wtf are you people eating? Do you put white sugar into everything you cook or something?


“You don’t have to floss all your teeth. Just the ones you want to keep.”

–the best dentist I ever had

Admittedly when I was a kid my dentist was this guy:


We might not all have exactly the same dental layout…



Or maybe they just make a ton of stuff and people buy floss. I have yet to see floss advertised aggressively. It’s not like there’s a ton of money in floss. Maybe the margins are high, but what is it, like a buck? American families aren’t collectively going bankrupt over floss.

That being said, sure, let’s collect some more evidence. I’m all for the scientific method and looking before you leap. But Jeeez-Us not everything is a corporatist conspiracy! A lot of what we do without examination is just old-fashioned path-dependence.