My personal anecdote: last time when I went to the dentist, for the first time in ~10 years, because a tiny bit of a tooth broke off while trying to strip a piece of wire with my mouth (yes I know that's bad), I expected my teeth to be in horrible shape. Dentist fixed my tooth and did a full check-up including X-rays, and as it turns out, my teeth where in near-perfect condition, no cavities or other bad spots, just some dental plaque that needed to be removed. I haven't flossed a single time in my 30+ years long life.
Moral of the story: flossing probably has nothing to do with dental health, as long as you brush your teeth and don't eat a lot of sugar.
But one thing that is clear is that oral health is very important. I've noticed that when I brush around midday, I'm in a much better mood. But don't take my word for it -- numerous studies have established co-incidence between heart disease, mortality, and inflammation and bad oral health. And there are good reasons to believe it is not simply an issue of correlation without causation as local even mild infection can cause many downstream effects throughout the body. And anyways, it's just so much better to have a clean mouth.
It is unwise to extrapolate from your personal experience. Especially when there is plenty of research available on the effect of flossing on one's dental health.
I never used to floss, and would regularly have cavities to deal with (pretty much every visit to the dentist). When I started flossing religiously that ceased. I've had one filling (and that for a tooth cracked when I accidentally bit down on something hard) in the last decade.
For me, there's a pretty clear benefit to flossing. I imagine there's a lot of variation in its usefulness, depending on things like diet, mouth shape & size, what kinds of bacteria you host, etc.
The author was using flossing as a metaphor for a common oversight: just because things are one way today doesn't mean they'll always be. Well, duh. Yet, we all forget it. It's the same reason that investment advice is given with the caveat that past performance is not to be used as a determinant of future results.
I disagree with the author's approach though. I've also never had a cavity in my life. Just turned 36 today. I also have excellent gum health. I floss, at most, once a month. The difference between my experience and the authors is that I continue to go to the dentist every 6 months.
My dental health is fine without flossing, so why should I floss? The author's contention is that this could change at any time. I agree, which is why I get regular dental check-ups. The assertion that I should floss anyway is just acceptance of dogma. I don't buy it. The important part, in my view, is that you always keep an eye on conditions. At the first sign of change, I will adapt my routine to accommodate.
Moral of the story: get to know your own teeth well and take care of them in the way that's best for you. You might not even realize how much food is constantly stuck between your teeth, if you never used an interdental brush. Flossing is complementary to them.
One DH told me that toothpicks are better.
Don't skip flossing just because you haven't had a bunch of cavities. Your teeth may be special, but is your heart?
I ask because Wikipedia believes that the theory is still quite "out there" but I'd be happy to learn from more up to date/reliable sources.
Relevant Cochrane review:
As for dentists handing you a bill that would pay for a used car? There's an easy fix for that: ignore most of what they tell you, and get things fixed if/when they hurt. When the dentist has you sign a consent form that says "dentistry is not an exact science", take heed.
Also, having a public health care helps with the bills, I go for a check-up every year and never had any serious problems.
Gum disease can progress rather quickly, so your one-year time scale might not be frequent enough to catch it.
I'm now on a first-name basis with my periodontist, and a couple of years ago, I didn't know what that was.
Incidentally I also went to the dentist lately and I rarely brush my teeth more than once per day and I never floss but they thought my teeth looked good. My girlfriend flosses and brushes her teeth like a madman but she did not get any compliments for her teeth. I think it simpy varies from person to person and it's a lot about what you eat and drink.
We're encouraged to brush after each meal, though, using fluorinated toothpaste.
I recently picked up a waterpik off of Amazon for about $40. It's essentially a water pressure based flossing system. I love it! It's easy to use and gets those spaces that are hard to reach with floss.
If you struggle with flossing like me, I recommend taking a look. I've been very happy with the results so far.
Just in case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodontitis
"Periodontitis involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth."
My case was pretty severe. Mainly from drinking WAY too much pop and not brushing and flossing on a regular basis. It is true flossing helps your gums in a lot of ways and considering they're the main support structure for your teeth, you really should take care of them.
And even if there isn't any scientific data showing dental care and other diseases aren't related, shouldn't you just error on the safe side anyways?
accumulated a lot of interesting comments after I last checked it soon after it was posted. Going back to those comments now is food for thought as I read this thread. I'm trying out some of the ideas that come from the article that opened the previous thread, for example by changing which mouth rinse I use daily. I still floss daily, and have for years, and since I began doing that (in adult life), my dentists have generally reported that my teeth are now in better condition than they were before I started that habit.
And a pre-emptive answer to all those who will say Weston Price was a quack: No, he wasn't. Ignore the soundbites, read his studies, and modern follow-ups.
Flossing twice a day? I thought I was awesome for once a day.
Compare him to the programmer who creates an extensible open framework, as opposed to the guy who throws together a dense hack that only he understands. The latter could be said to be acting more in his own interest, but the former is more dedicated to his profession and the greater good.
Longer term, not so much. As word gets around that he isn't a good dentist, he will have fewer customers.
I'm not a fan of the analogy in this case, but the tl;dr is: don't rest on your laurels when you're #1 at something. Reference: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/rest+on+laurels
//EDIT: Apparently, although the association between gum disease and heart disease seems to be science, the causal link is not.
You sure it isn't that people who floss tend to also be people that take better care of their bodies overall, and hence the two, while correlated, aren't an example of cause and effect.
Sources like  do claim a causal link but I was unable to find the actualy study.
That said any real conclusions are clearly premature for the data, as science reporting tends to be these days.
I'm not going to try and dig up a bunch of studies to back this up. I drank the Kool-Aid years ago. It appears to have paid off for me in the dentists chair!
People who floss twice a day tend to have all sorts of good habits. In fact, they tend to be the sort of people who just plain "take care of themselves."