There are long-held practices and beliefs in every profession that may not necessarily be based on the current evidence. These practices are often referred to as the standard of care. In dentistry, one such belief stands out above the others: that of using string floss to prevent disease. A recent report by an Associated Press journalist reported there is no conclusive evidence that flossing helps reduce or prevent periodontal disease or interproximal dental caries. This finding set into motion a global discourse between the public, the media, and the dental profession for about a week, and then it was gone. Some countries only responded superficially because string floss is not the standard of care, but in the United States it was an affront to many dental hygienists who have worked tirelessly to help their patients adopt behaviors that prevent oral disease. The purpose of this article is to summarize the salient points found in recently published systematic reviews on the topic of string floss, the conclusions that can be drawn from these findings, and clinical applications of the evidence.
Keywords: dental caries, floss, interdental, interproximal, periodontal disease, string floss