Julien L. Balmer

Here's Why You Can Stop Feeling Guilty About Always Forgetting To Floss

Apparently, dentists have been lying to you about flossing your whole life.

But, it's not their fault.

Since 1979, flossing has been recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is updated every five years.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Associated Press challenged the department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture last year by asking for evidence to back up the health benefits of flossing.

By law, everything in the Dietary Guidelines has to be backed my science and research. AP wasn't satisfied with the research provided by the government since the late '70s, so it questioned it.

When the new Dietary Guidelines came out in 2015, flossing had been removed without any warning.

In a letter to the AP, the government later acknowledged the fact an inadequate amount of research had gone into the effectiveness of flossing.


The AP checked out 25 studies done on flossing and dental care in the last decade, and it found the evidence behind it was pretty weak. One 2011 study showed that flossers saw slightly less gum inflammation, but it was hardly noticeable.

Even older studies used outdated testing methods or had too few participants. Basically, AP did more research than the government and found the evidence backing up the benefits of flossing was not strong enough to warrant its inclusion in the Dietary Guidelines.

If you asked me today, "Talia, when was the last time you flossed?" I would be honest and tell you I don't remember. I'll only do it if I feel something lodged between my teeth.

And then if you asked me, "Talia, do your gums ever hurt or feel swollen?" I would say no. Even though I don't floss often, my teeth are fine.

I've had, like, three cavities. Big whoop.

Yet, when I go to the dentist, I still feel guilty for not flossing. Even though the evidence proves that religious flossers should be skeptical, dentists will continue encouraging people to do it because there's the possibility it can help.

According to National Institutes of Health dentist Tim Iafolla,

We know there's a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it.

Guess it's better to be safe than sorry, people.