Surely one of the most common lies in America is "yes, Doctor, of course I've been flossing." 27 percent of us lie to the dentist about it; another 36 percent would rather do something unpleasant, like scrub a toilet, than rub a little waxed string between our molars.
And it turns out that all that lying and all that flossing might have been for nothing.
The government has been urging you to floss since 1979. AP recently asked several government agencies for the science behind their flossing recommendations. And ... well, there wasn't really much there.
In fact, it had never really been researched, the AP found. The government even removed flossing from their dietary guidelines this year.
Now, there has been some research, the AP said. But the quality is not there. The evidence that flossing is worth the pain, aggravation and grossness was "weak, very unreliable," of "very low" quality, and carries "a moderate to large potential for bias" across 25 studies that the AP looked into.
The American Dental Association still urges that you floss, but when asked about it, they couldn't cite evidence either. Nor could the flossing industry itself.
Does this mean you should light your dental floss on fire and free yourself from its waxy tyranny? Not so fast. You should always follow the advice of your dentist. And as National Institutes of Health dentist Tim Iafolla told the AP, "It's low risk, low cost. We know there's a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it."
But maybe your dentist can be a little less smug when they ask about it now.
The AP contributed to this story.
Follow Allison Carter on Twitter: @AllisonLCarter