My reading for pleasure has slowed downed dramatically in the past few weeks, and I’m not really sure why. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back into the habit soon.
What this means is that I am still reading the book I first wrote about two months ago, Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland.
The book is wonderful, and as I noted in my post from a couple of months ago, I would likely get one or two more posts out of it.
And so here we are.
Sutherland claims that we do many things out of habit, and we may not really be sure why we are doing it.
One example he uses is that of flossing.
Sutherland notes that a recent report (2016) proved that there were no dental-health benefits to the practice of flossing.
I was taken aback when I read that. I was a daily flosser.
One reason for such a habit is that I had read somewhere that flossing everyday adds about six years to your life. That seemed like a pretty good return on investment: 45 seconds a day for an extra six years of life? Count me in…
According to these claims, daily flossing adds 6.4 years to a person’s life; flossing and overall dental health reduces the chances of infectious diseases and has other beneficial effects.
Given such a precise number, I had little reason to doubt the claim.
But then I came across this discussion in Sutherland’s book, which mentions another study, a more recent one.
In 2015, the Associated Press asked the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture for evidence to support its recommendations on flossing, which had been in place since 1979. The AP also followed up with written requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
When the federal government issued its latest dietary guidelines in 2016, 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.”
I guess that means I’ve been hoodwinked by dentists and floss manufacturers, But there’s an easy fix – I stopped flossing.
I can’t claim that I’ve been putting that extra 30 seconds a day to good use, but just think about all the money I save on floss…