So should we floss, or shouldn’t we?

Celia Burns By Celia Burns on 11th September 2016

There have been articles in the press recently which have stated that research shows that flossing is a waste of time. When these appeared, one could almost hear the faint sound of cheering in the grey skies above the British summer holiday makers across the country. But your hygienist is still telling you how important it is to clean between your teeth. Who is right?

Well, the answer is that in most cases, they both are. The confusion comes in regarding “cleaning between the teeth” and “flossing” as interchangeable. And they most certainly are not.

Flossing, as many of those who have tried to do it will attest, can be tricky to master. It requires considerable manual dexterity, an awareness of the shape and position of all your teeth, and a good memory for the exact technique that you were shown at your check up several weeks ago. It is little surprise that most people give it up until a few days before their next appointment. And herein is the reason the research quoted in the papers found that flossing is a waste of time. The vast majority of dental patients do it infrequently, using a method that would make their dentist wince if they saw it. If you or I were given a Stradivarius violin and told to play a Mozart concerto, we would not suggest that it is impossible for anyone to do so just because we couldn’t. And flossing is just the same – the people who are skilled at it are almost as rare as concert violinists.

So shall we heave a sigh of relief and abandon all but our toothbrush? This is not the answer. If you don’t clean between your teeth, especially as you get older and you have more fillings, you are more likely to have gum disease, bad breath, loose teeth and tooth decay. Not only that, but research shows that those with gum disease are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, premature and stillbirth, to name but those we know about.

This is why at Nothing But The Tooth we have advocated using interdental brushes to clean your teeth.  These little bottle brushes are much easier to use and more effective than floss. If you use them daily, using the sizes that we have told you, your gum health will improve dramatically. And we sell a brand that is tougher than both the market leader and the supermarket own brands, and cheaper than them all too.

Come in and see us for a demonstration of how to use them and to find out the right sizes for you. Not for the first time, you should not believe everything you read in the papers.

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About the Author

Celia Burns
Celia Burns - Principal Dentist & Clinical Director

My first love isn’t teeth; it’s people. That’s why I love being a dentist. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to help an anxious patient, who has possibly avoided going to the dentist for many years, build their trust in me, and I get a real thrill from helping someone achieve the confidence in their smile that they want.

Six Month Smiles BACD - British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry British Dental Association The Oral Health Foundation GDC