No evidence dental flossing matters

Another health sciences correctitude goes down in flames.

From Big Story:

Last year, the Associated Press asked the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for their evidence, and followed up with written requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines this year, the flossing recommendation had been removed, without notice. In a letter to the AP, the government acknowledged the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched, as required.

The AP looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade, focusing on 25 studies that generally compared the use of a toothbrush with the combination of toothbrushes and floss. The findings? The evidence for flossing is “weak, very unreliable,” of “very low” quality, and carries “a moderate to large potential for bias.” More.

Of course, we need to be just as cautious with claims made by debunkers as with claims made by fatuous asses who “stand for science!”

With flossing, as with nutrition in general, a key problem is that one can’t measure health benefits among self-reporting humans the way one can measure them among test animals in an enclosed and controlled environment.

As a result, I (O’Leary for News) have much more confidence in the products recommended for my animals (including tooth health products) than I have in those recommended for me.

The problem is that we are seeking general truths from nutrition practices whereas benefits may vary widely within the human population.

Flossing (assuming it is a rigorous practice) may help some people much more than others. Salt or butter may be against sound medical advice for some people but not for most people.

Whole foods may have a psychological health benefit to some people that makes the extra expense worthwhile. I know women fighting breast cancer who get right into all that stuff. That’s good. Their approach to their disease leaves them much happier because they are doing something more pleasant than consuming their lives with worry—no matter what the outcome in five-year survival rates. They may not live longer, but they won’t really notice.

It’s the big public campaigns about all this stuff that need debunking. Which leads us to the conundrum that, just when all the nonsense is coming out in the wash in serious science, we have municipal Napoleons banninglarge-size soda pop and fast food. And creating court costs for the taxpayer when industry sues back.

A wise voter should infer that any mayor engaged in such activities is trying to evade boring, non-Napoleonic duties like infrastructure maintenance and renewal. And that voter should vote to allow him to continue with his food concerns on his private time.

See also: Nutrition science, in general, is nearly baseless.