A recent study has stated that the commonly heard advice from dentists to floss may not be as good advice as we think.

The study investigated the long-term impacts of flossing over a decade, looking at 25 case studies. The study sought to understand whether flossing and brushing was a better combination than just brushing alone – and the conclusion was very much inconclusive.

“The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal,” reads a section of the study. The original piece also argues that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, without much fanfare, removed its imperative for Americans to floss between its 2010 and 2015 editions, with the latter making no mention of floss as a useful hygenic practice.

Despite this argument, many dentists would still recommend flossing as a way to prevent gum disease despite tenuously proven links between the two. Wayne Aldredge, president of a peridontists’ group, argues that not flossing is “like building a house and not painting two sides of it.” HSPS applicants should consider the changing role of medical practices in modernity, and how reporting of new medical studies can often be misleading in the media. Medicine applicants should consider the ways in which patients receive their medical advice, and how these communications mix inherited wisdom and new studies.

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