Should you still keep flossing?

Have you recently heard that flossing doesn’t help your teeth? Are you wondering who to believe? Well here’s a dentist’s opinion on the matter.


Your dentist keeps telling you to floss but you’ve just read that recent research says flossing doesn’t benefit your teeth?

Well before you turn your ‘unnecessary’ dental floss into a new cat toy for Tiddles, you might want to read this.

The reality

In actual fact, the findings of the Cochrane review did not conclude that flossing isn’t worthwhile. Instead, the review looked at previous studies which highlighted the benefits of flossing and criticised them for not being a high enough quality or covering a long enough trial period.

However, the research did highlight that “people who brush and floss regularly have less gum bleeding compared to toothbrushing alone”.

The review does not state that there are no benefits to flossing – just that more research needs to be done!

Our opinion

As dentists, we have our own opinion on why we consider flossing to be important.

No, flossing isn’t a wonder treatment. Flossing alone won’t stop tooth decay or freshen your breath. It doesn’t give you a pearly white smile and it won’t single-handedly fight gingivitis.

But! …When used with other methods, flossing is one more weapon to help keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy.

What does flossing do?

Our teeth are fairly tightly packed into our mouths. That means in places they overlap and food can get trapped between them without you even noticing.

Flossing is an effective way of cleaning in between the teeth as it gets into areas that no toothbrush can get to.

Dental floss helps remove trapped food particles that would otherwise be broken down by bacteria and may eventually contribute to decay, gum disease and bad breath. Flossing may also help reduce plaque build-up which forms whenever we eat and drink.

It’s about teamwork!

We reckon your teeth are best protected when you cover 3 important bases: brushing, flossing, rinsing. That means you get the most benefit from dental floss when it’s used alongside:

  • Brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste including last thing before bed
  • Using fluoride mouthwash twice a day throughout the day

Flossing is by no means the only way to clean interdentally either. You could use interdental brushes instead, which are widely available from any pharmacy.

So although flossing won’t give you a super smile all on its own, it will help keep your dental hygiene top notch.

If you’ve got any questions about how to use dental floss, switching to interdental brushes or about your oral hygiene, make an appointment to speak to one of our Number 18 dental hygienists.

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