KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — This may be the news you’ve been waiting decades to hear – flossing doesn’t necessarily prevent gum disease or cavities.

The federal government has been recommending flossing in its Dietary Guidelines since 1979.

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The American Dental Association says, “Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.”

But, in its latest release of Dietary Guidelines, the federal government quietly dropped the flossing requirement.

When asked about it through the Freedom of Information Act, government officials revealed a report that found the majority of studies fail to demonstrate flossing is effective in removing plaque.

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There is one study that credits flossing with a slight reduction in gum inflammation.

But before you toss out your floss completely, Wayne Aldredge, President of the American Academy of Periodontology says those studies are flawed.

Aldredge says that it’s necessary to look at patients over a 10 to 20 year period because gun disease is a very slow process.

Flossing, dentists say, is low-cost, low-risk, and there’s still the chance it helps prevent gum disease – even if just a little bit.

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