Scientists Find A Probable Relationship Between Flossing And Life Expectancy

One new tool is predicting that flossing could be responsible for adding an extra year to your life. But does the data add up?

A recent article from Business Insider has raised some serious attention around the importance of flossing your teeth at least once a day. The article focuses on the work of Thomas Perls, a physician and professor at Boston University and the creator of the Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator. He designed the calculator as a tool for predicting your life expectancy based on your lifestyle, family history, nutrition, and exercise habits. Although only one question on the test addresses the question of flossing, Perls claims that a simple yes or no answer to that particular question can either add or subtract a year from your life.

So, does the claim hold up?

While the article lists a slew of health issues that could stem from not flossing — plaque leading to tartar buildup, leading to receding gums, leading to periodontal disease, which can lead to heart disease, mouth cancers, diabetes, and even kidney failure — I remained fairly skeptical about the dangers of not flossing daily. So, I consulted with my own dentist, Joseph Gelo of Absolute Dental, to get his opinion.

“Flossing goes right alongside regular brushing and rinsing as part of a good oral care routine,” though he said it was “almost impossible to determine exactly how many years good flossing habits could add to your lifespan.”

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In the end, I decided to take the test for myself. It was comprised of about 50-60 questions and only took a few minutes to complete. The calculator predicted I would live to the ripe age of 87. Maybe I don’t need to floss, after all.

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