To Floss Or Not To Floss?

To Floss Or Not To Floss?

Do recent reports mean that you should ‘toss the floss’?

Many of you will have read, in the papers, reports which claim that there is little benefit in using dental floss, with some even claiming it can do harm.

A number of our Chelmsford dental patients have mentioned this when coming for an appointment, so we felt that we would take this opportunity to clarify our thoughts on it.

Does it work?

Many people find using dental floss quite tricky, and, in many cases, abandon it fairly quickly. In our opinion, this is unfortunate, as some form of interdental cleaning is important in order to prevent tooth decay or gum disease which very often starts in the spaces between our teeth where a brush can’t reach. The reports also claim that interdental brushes are a better solution. There may well be some truth in this. Interdental brushing is, in effect, the same as regular brushing, albeit, the fine brushes are able to reach between the teeth, where a general toothbrush can’t.

If patients wish to use interdental brushes, this is absolutely fine and it will certainly help to keep the gums disease free. There is a concern though, that patients whose teeth are very close together may not be able to use these brushes on certain teeth and may simply then leave them uncleaned. These are exactly the spaces where problems are likely to arise and we would suggest that you keep some dental floss handy for those tighter spots.

Doing it correctly

The fact is that dental floss can still be effective if used correctly. Many people use a ‘sawing’ motion which may cause soreness of the gums. Ideally, an up and down action should be used to remove plaque from the teeth and gums. If you struggle to do this correctly, an appointment with the hygienist at Blue Sky Dental may be useful to help you with this, and other general oral health advice may be given too.

With regards to the claim that flossing can be harmful and spread bacteria; the general consensus amongst medical professionals is that this is not likely to be the case in a healthy person. Where a person has a compromised immune system though, this could be an issue and discussing this with the hygienist and your GP would be a sensible approach.

Alternatives to dental floss

Whilst dental floss is still one of the most used interdental cleaning methods, interdental brushes are certainly catching up and many people do find these easier to use. The other alternative on the market, is the ‘waterpik’. This blasts fine jets of water between the teeth. There have been some doubts expressed as to how effective this method is in removing plaque and some users report that it can be messy and unpleasant if the water hits the throat.

Our recommendation is that, whichever method you use, some form of interdental cleaning is essential for good oral health, and especially in the prevention of gum disease. You should also ensure that you see our Chelmsford dentist and hygienist on a regular basis so that we can professionally examine your teeth and detect any problems in their early stages.

To arrange an appointment at the Blue Sky Dental practice, please call us today on 01245 211070.

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