Listerine antiseptic proven as effective as dental floss

July 6, 2004
Clinical study results are big news for consumers who don't floss like they should.

A survey of 1,004 consumers and 300 dentists confirms what many suspected all along � a majority of Americans don't floss their teeth as often as they should and their gums are suffering as a result. According to a 2004 oral hygiene survey by TIS, a division of NOP World, Americans are too busy and too tired to floss. In fact, approximately 90% of dentists state that most patients do not floss daily. Not the best scenario for optimal oral health�daily flossing has long been considered the standard for removing gum disease-causing plaque that can't be removed by brushing alone. Until recently. Published research has now proven that rinsing with Listerine" Antiseptic is as effective as flossing at reducing plaque and gingivitis between teeth.

For the legions of consumers who may not adequately floss, the new studies behind Listerine" Antiseptic will be considered big news. In only 30 seconds, twice a day, consumers can improve the odds of beating plaque and gingivitis, achieving significant health benefits once thought only possible with daily flossing. However, if you are already flossing, don't toss that floss! An optimal Listerine" Antiseptic routine should include daily flossing. Dental professionals strongly recommend that consumers take this news as an opportunity to speak to their dentists and hygienists about how they can enhance their oral care routine.

"After 125-years, Listerine" Antiseptic continues to amaze us," said Lori Kumar, Ph.D., Vice President, Oral Care R&D, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. "These findings support the benefit of adding a Listerine" Antiseptic mouthwash to a daily oral care routine, especially for people that may not adequately floss."

Scientific Studies Provide Solutions
A long-term study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) demonstrates that rinsing twice daily with Listerine" Antiseptic mouthrinse is as effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis in areas between the teeth as flossing once daily.

In the study published in JADA, Listerine" Antiseptic reduced plaque between the teeth by 20 percent and gingivitis by 11 percent, while flossing led to 3.4 percent and 4.3 percent reductions respectively. This trial reinforces the findings of a prior study published in the American Journal of Dentistry (AJD). Both studies compared the effectiveness of 30-second, twice daily use of Listerine" Antiseptic to once daily flossing in more than 600 people ages 18-65 with mild to moderate gingivitis. These six-month randomized and evaluator-blinded studies were conducted in two independent research-testing facilities.

"People who don't floss are contributing to plaque build-up that can lead to gingivitis, the earliest and mildest form of gum disease," says Christine Charles, RDH Associate Director, Oral Care Clinical Research at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and a lead on the two studies comparing the effectiveness of Listerine" Antiseptic and flossing. "A major benefit of flossing is that it can penetrate the areas where your toothbrush can't reach," added Ms. Charles. "As a liquid solution, Listerine" Antiseptic easily flows into these hard to reach areas between teeth and with a microbial action kills the germs that cause plaque and gingivitis."

From the Mouths of Patients and Dentists
Although American consumers know they should floss daily to prevent plaque and gum disease, approximately 90% of dentists surveyed reported that most of their patients actually do not floss regularly. Less than one quarter of American consumers think their dentist would give them an "A" grade for oral hygiene, and 42 percent predict they'd get a "C" or lower, according to a newly released TIS survey (a division of NOP World) of consumers and dentists. Still, 67 percent of consumers claim to feel little or no guilt for not following their dentists' recommendations to floss daily. Consumers surveyed justify their behavior to dentists: 68 percent of the surveyed dentists say their patients complain that they are too time-starved or too tired to floss at the end of the day.

The question remains, will dentists now simply advise their patients to rinse in lieu of flossing? Hopefully not. An optimal Listerine" Antiseptic routine should include daily flossing. Eighty-three percent of the dentists surveyed say they would recommend rinsing with Listerine" Antiseptic twice daily to patients who don't floss properly. The benefit of rinsing with Listerine" Antiseptic extends from those who don't floss properly to those who do. In fact, 74 percent of dentists even said they would recommend adding Listerine" Antiseptic to the regimen of patients who already floss properly. And the news of the Listerine" Antiseptic flossing studies resonates with those not currently using the product. In the consumer survey, a sizeable 72 percent stated they would use Listerine" Antiseptic, given it is as effective as floss against removing plaque and gingivitis between teeth.

About the Survey
The oral care hygiene survey, with a focus on flossing challenges, was conducted by TIS, a division of NOP World, in April 2004, interviewing a nationwide sample of 1,000+ U.S. adults ages 18 years and over. Data for the total sample were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, and race/ethnicity. A second survey was conducted with 300 dentists nationwide. The surveys were sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, makers of Listerine" Antiseptic.

About Plaque and Gingivitis
Plaque, a soft, sticky almost colorless film of bacteria, is directly responsible for the development of gingivitis, an early and reversible form of gum disease. Gingivitis can lead to more advanced gum disease (periodontitis), which when left untreated can lead to eventual tooth loss. Three out of four adults experience a form of gum disease at some point in their lives.