Is flossing a waste of time, as some reports suggest?
A number of patients at our Epsom practice have asked us whether they should continue flossing in light of reports that suggest that it is ineffective with few proven benefits. For many years, dentists have been trying to encourage patients to floss in order to prevent gum disease. Currently, only around 20% of people do so; but does this mean that the 80% were right all along?
Between the teeth
The fact is that, no matter how well you brush your teeth, it is not possible for the bristles of a tooth brush to effectively clean in the spaces between them. Unfortunately, this is often where problems such as gum disease and tooth decay start. Our view is that patients should continue to pay attention to this, and clean their teeth accordingly to minimise risk of gum disease and other problems. Here are a variety of ways to help your teeth stay healthy and avoid inter-dental problems:
Dental floss – In the light of these reports, some patients may wish to swap from flossing to use inter-dental brushes (see below). Some suggest that these may be more effective than dental floss and we have them available for purchase at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic should you wish to try them. We do still believe though, that dental floss is useful (especially for spaces where an inter-dental brush can’t reach). To be effective though, flossing needs to be done correctly, moving it up and down the space between the teeth, rather than in a sawing motion, as many seem to do.
Inter-dental Brushes – There is little doubt that more and more people are choosing these over dental floss and a major reason for this may be simply that they are easier to use. We do recommend this method to our patients but would also advise that you also keep some dental floss handy for those really tight spots that brushes may not reach.
Water piks – These are more popular in the US and involve the blasting of a fine jet of water between the teeth. Many dentists though, feel that this is not such an effective method for removing plaque, and some users find it messy and also uncomfortable as misdirected water jets hit the back of the throat.
Hygienist visits – As well as visiting your local dentist in Epsom regularly, we also recommend that you see one of our hygienists on a regular basis. Not only can they offer help and advice on the best way to keep your mouth healthy, but will also perform a ‘scale and polish’ from time to time to remove hardened bacteria from the teeth and gum line. Even a patient who cleans their teeth well and regularly is likely to have areas of the mouth that are difficult to reach – but our hygienists can!
To summarise, if you wish to change to inter-dental brushes from dental floss, that may be a positive move. We do strongly recommend though, that some form of inter-dental cleaning, along with regular hygienist visits, are necessary to ensure that your mouth remains healthy and free from gum disease.
Please call the Clock Tower Dental Clinic of Epsom, Surrey, on 01372 720136 to arrange an appointment with our team.