The experts' ultimate flossing guide: worth doing to care for our teeth?


The world of healthcare is often plagued by mixed messages and conflicting research, which confuses clinicians and public alike.

Recently, a piece of key oral health advice - commonly shared for years by dentists with patients - came in for some criticism when a review of 25 clinical studies cast doubt over the proven need for flossing those 'in-betweeners' - the gaps between teeth that make up 40% of the tooth's surface.

The investigation, by the Associated Press, suggested there was little to no evidence that flossing teeth prevents dental cavities or gum disease.

The report looked at the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade and discovered the evidence for flossing was 'weak, very unreliable', of 'very low' quality, and carried 'a moderate to large potential for bias'.

And, with the cat put firmly amongst the pigeons, dental professionals came out fighting, arguing that this analysis somewhat misses the point. Whilst there may be little to support the efficacy of flossing itself, we all still need to mind the gaps that our toothbrushes can't reach because it is here where, commonly, oral diseases start.

Flossing isn't the only option for reaching into those spaces, nor is it the most straightforward. Interdental brushes, that come in various sizes depending on the spaces between the teeth, are widely recommended and so too are the various electric water flossers on the market that loosen and blast away the sticky plaque and food debris, using the power of water pressure.

Tooth brushing and interdental cleaning are key to helping maintain healthy teeth and gums and, therefore our overall health (at least the medical world are united on that one!) and, whilst the dental profession may not be in agreement as to what implement is best to use interdentally, they certainly are 100% in favour of cleaning each and every one of the five surfaces of every tooth!

Read on to get some expert views.

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