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Should I floss?

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Medically reviewed by: Helen Carey Dip in Dental Hygiene and Therapy Lond 2009

should I floss

Interdental cleaning is proven to help remove debris between teeth that can contribute to plaque build-up.

You’re told to floss when you visit the dentist, you’re told to floss when you visit the hygienist. We all know we’re meant to floss but, many are left asking “Should I floss?”

When is the best time to floss and how many times a day? And, how are you meant to be doing it? Will your dentist know if you don’t? And no, we’re not talking about the dance! (but out of interest, can you do that?… haha we bet you just tried!)

“Should I floss?”

Yes, if you can. No, if you can’t.

Flossing can be very technique sensitive and the BBC reported back in 2016 that the results of flossing were unproven but the clinical evidence of lack of flossing or interdental cleaning and the presence interdental caries, plaque build-up and gingivitis if far from coincidental.

The most important thing is to use whichever dental aid you can to clean the interdental surfaces of your teeth. If you dipped your hands in honey, would you not wash between your fingers?…


“How do I floss?”

The floss should be long enough to wrap around your forefinger on each hand a couple of times and you should create a C-shape around the tooth edge once you’ve passed the floss between your teeth. You need to gently push and pull the C-shape up and down the tooth edge, maintaining contact – you don’t pull the floss back and forth, you could damage your gums doing it this way. Top Tip! Let go of one end and gently pull the floss piece through so that you don’t flick the removed debris all over your bathroom mirror.

“I can’t floss, what should I do?”

The first thing to do if you can’t floss or you find it difficult is to ask your dentist or hygienist to demonstrate the best technique for you. If dexterity is an issue you’ll likely be advised to use an interdental brush, a flossette or even a water flosser. If you really can’t master flossing – there are plenty of alternatives to keep the interdental surfaces of your teeth free from build-up and decay.

“What are interdental brushes and how do I use them?”

Think miniature bottle brush. There are many brands of interdental brushes, such as Icon and Tepe and even supermarket and pharmacy brands and it really doesn’t matter which you prefer as long as you have the correct size brush for the interdental space. The brushes are passed back and forth through the space to remove the lodged plaque and debris.
The brushes are reusable, providing they remain in good shape and you rinse them thoroughly after each use. Be sure to replace them when they become tatty as they’ll no longer be efficiently useful.

“What is a flossette, and how do I use it?”

It’s likely that you’ve seen a flossette, they look like a floss slingshot! Much like flossing, you pass them between your teeth and push the small length of taught floss against the tooth edge and gently push up and down to remove the plaque and debris. You can’t slide these out though, so remove them carefully to avoid flicking your fishings across the mirror!

“What is a water flosser and how do I use it?”

If you’re a gadget fan, or you don’t have nimble enough fingers to master and of the above techniques you should invest in a water flosser. Sometimes, implantologists and periodontists suggest these for managing the dental health of implants or periodontal pockets as well.
The electric water flossers like the Waterpik work by jetting a burst of water between the teeth to remove the plaque and debris. They claim to be Easy to use, fast and effective.

“When should I floss?”

We recommend in the evening before you go to bed or at a separate time throughout the day. Avoid doing it in the morning, this is when most people are tired and you’ll benefit from removing a day’s worth of food, plaque and debris in the evening. Be sure to floss before you brush your teeth, this way your toothpaste will reach the interdental surfaces of your teeth as your brushing.

“How often should I floss?”

At least once a day. And, after eating particularly stubborn foods like red meats, popcorn, crisps and seeds.

If you need a floss demo, get in touch today or book online! 

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