Importance of Flossing

The American Dental Association (ADA) is aware of the recent preliminary injunction against a mouthwash manufacturer’s advertising claim that its mouth rinse is as effective as flossing. The ADA continues to recommend flossing as part of a good oral hygiene regimen. The following flossing information was updated and posted on the ADA’s web site in June 2004.

While some study results* indicate the use of a mouth rinse can be as effective as flossing for reducing plaque between the teeth, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends to brush twice a day and clean between the teeth with floss or interdental cleaners once each day to remove plaque from all tooth surfaces. Plaque is responsible for both tooth decay and gum disease.

Regarding the studies, the authors concluded that in patients with mild to moderate gingivitis (early periodontal (gum) disease), rinsing twice a day with the antiseptic mouth rinse was as effective as flossing for reducing plaque and gingivitis between the teeth. The studies did not examine whether the mouth rinse had the same effect as floss on reducing tooth decay or periodontitis (advanced periodontal disease). Flossing and interdental cleaners also help remove food debris caught between teeth that may not be rinsed away.

The ADA recommends following the above overview information to help keep teeth and gums in good health.

*Sharma, et. al., Am. J. Dent. 15:351-355, 2002.
Bauroth, et.al., J. Am. Dent. Assn. 134:359-365, Mar 2003